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Title:      A Winter Pilgrimage
Author:     H. Rider Haggard
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Language:   English
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Date first posted:          January 2006
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Title:      A Winter Pilgrimage
Author:     H. Rider Haggard


First Published 1901.

Being an Account of Travels through Palestine, Italy, and the
Island of Cyprus, accomplished in the Year 1900.




                              DEDICATION

                         I offer these Pages

                                  to

                       Mr. & Mrs. Hart Bennett

                    and all other Cyprian friends
                   whose hospitalities and kindness
                     have made my sojourn in the
                          Island so pleasant
                             to remember

  Ditchingham, 1901.






                         A WINTER PILGRIMAGE



                              CHAPTER I

                           MILAN CATHEDRAL

Surely Solomon foresaw these days when he set down that famous saying
as to the making of many books. The aphorism, I confess, is one which
strikes me through with shame whenever I chance to be called upon to
read it aloud in the parish church on Sunday. Indeed it suggests to me
a tale which has a moral--or a parallel. Some months ago I tarried at
Haifa, a place on the coast of Syria with an abominable port. It was
at or about the hour of midnight that a crowd of miserable travellers,
of whom I was one, might have been seen cowering in the wind and rain
at the gates of this harbour. There the judge and the officer bullied
and rent them, causing them to fumble with damp hands and discover
their /tezkerehs/ in inaccessible pockets, which they did that the
account given in those documents of their objects, occupations, past
history, and personal appearance might be verified by a drowsy Turk
seated in a box upon the quay. Not until he was satisfied on all these
points, indeed, would he allow them the privilege of risking death by
drowning in an attempt to reach a steamer which rolled outside the
harbour.

At length the ordeal was done with and we were informed that we might
embark. That is to say, we were graciously permitted to leap five feet
from an unlit pier--the steps of which had been washed away in the
gale of the previous night, but will, I am informed, be repaired next
season--trusting to Providence to cause us to fall into a dark object
beneath believed to be a boat. Another Turkish officer watched our
departure suspiciously, though what he imagined we could be carrying
out of his barren land is beyond my guessing.

"Cook, Cook, Cook!" we croaked in deprecatory tones as one by one we
crept past him cowed and cold, fearing that he might invent some
pretext to detain us. Therefore it was indeed that we hurried to bring
to his notice the only name which seems to have power in Syria; that
famous name of the hydra-headed, the indispensable, the world-wide
Cook.

"Cook, Cook, Cook!" we croaked.

"Oh! yes," answered the exasperated Turk in a tone not unlike that of
a sleepy pigeon, "Coook, Coook, Coook! oh yes, all right! Coook,
always Coook! Go to--Jericho--Coook!"

In the same way and with much the same feelings, thinking of the long
line of works before me, I mutter to the reader now, "Book, Book,
Book!"

Can he be so rude as to answer, after the example of the Haifa Turk--

"Oh! yes, all right! Boook, &c., &c." The thought is too painful: I
leave it.

To be brief, I write for various reasons. Thus from the era of the
"Bordeau Pilgrim" who wrote in the year 333, the very first of those
who set on paper his impressions of the Holy Land, to this day, from
time to time among those who have followed in his steps, some have
left behind them accounts of what they saw and what befell them. The
list is long. There are St. Sylvia, and the holy Paula; Arculfus and
St. Wilibad, Mukadasi and Bernard the Wise; Saewulf and the Abbot
Daniel; Phocàs the Cretan and Theodoric; Felix Fabri; Sir John
Mandeville, de la Brocquière and Maundrell--and so on down to
Chateaubriand and our own times. But one thing they had in common.
They--or most of them--were driven on by the same desire. Obedient to
a voice that calls in the heart of so many, they travelled by land and
sea to look upon the place where Jesus Christ was born--where the
Master of mankind hung upon His cross at Calvary.

I will confess that I have a fancy to be numbered among their
honourable company. So it may chance--this is my hope--that when
another thousand years or more have gone by advancing the Holy Land
thus far upon its future, and the Moslem has ceased to occupy the
sacred places, my name may appear with their names. Thus perhaps I
also may be accounted a link in the chain of those who dedicated some
of their uncertain days to visiting and describing that grey stretch
of mountain land which is the cradle of man's hope in the darkness
that draws near to every one of us.

My second reason is that I should like to say something about that
neglected British possession, the fair island of Cyprus. To-day a
Cinderella among our colonies, with a little more care--and
capital--she might again become what she was of old, the Garden of the
Mediterranean, a land of corn and wine, and in fact, as well as
figuratively, a mine of wealth. Of Cyprus but few have written;
travellers rarely think it worth the while to visit there, so in this
particular at the least I trust that I may not be blamed.

There is, further, a last argument or excuse which I will venture to
use, because it seems to me to have a very wide application, far
wider, indeed, than is necessary to the instance of these humble
pages. It is the fashion nowadays to say that everything is hackneyed;
that the East itself, for instance, is practically exhausted; that the
reader, who perchance has never travelled further than Ramsgate, can
have little more to learn therefrom. "Give us some new things," cries
the tired world, as the Athenians cried of old. They ask in vain, on
this side of the grave there is no new thing. We must make the best of
the old material or give up thinking and reading, and the seeing of
sights. Yet what a fallacy underlies the surface meaning of these
words. Is not everything new to the eyes that can see and the ears
that can hear? Are there not joys and wonders about us by the thousand
which, being so blind and deaf, we seldom seize or value?

Oh, jaded reader, go stand in a garden as I did to-night and watch the
great cold moon creep up beyond the latticed trees, while the shadows
grow before her feet. Listen to the last notes of the thrush that
sways on the black bough of yonder beech, singing, with a heart
touched by the breath of spring, such a song as God alone could teach
her. And there, in the new-found light, look down at those pale
flowers. Or if you prefer it, stand upon them, they are only
primroses, that, as Lord Beaconsfield discovered, are very good in
salad.

To drop the poetical--and the ultra-practical, which is worse--and
take a safer middle way, I cannot for my part believe that this old
world is so exhausted after all. I think that there is still plenty to
be seen and more to be learned even at that Ramsgate of which I spoke
just now. Therefore I will try to describe a few of the things I saw
last winter as I saw them, and to chronicle their meanings as I caught
and understood them, hoping that some will yet be found for whom they
may have interest.

"Upon a certain foggy winter morning we stood at Charing Cross Station
en route for Italy, Cyprus, and Syria, viâ the St. Gothard, &c."

This, surely, is how I should begin, for it is bold to break away from
the accepted formula of books of travel consecrated by decades of
publication.

Still let me do so, and before we leave it, look round the station. It
is a horrible, reeking place, Heaven knows, on such a morning as this
of which I write. The most common of all sights to the traveller also,
and one of the most unnoticed. And yet how interesting. In a sense
even it is majestic. The great arching roof, a very cave of the winds;
the heavy pencils of shadow flung across its grey expanse; the grimy,
pervading mist; the lumps of black smoke edged with white propelled
laboriously upwards; the fierce, sharp jets of steam; the constant
echo of the clanging noises; the sense of bitted force in those
animate machines that move in and out, vanishing there into the wet
mist, appearing here in the soot-streaked gloom. Then the population
of this vast unfriendly place, the servants of the great engines, and
those whom the engines bear on their way to many lands. They come,
they go, those multitudinous forms; they are seen, they disappear,
those various faces, each of them, if you watch, dominated by some
individual note--grief, joy, expectancy, regret, /ennui/ even, as may
chance.

That train steams out, and those who clustered round it have melted
like last night's snow. Some it has borne away; some, friends and
spectators, having waved their last farewell, are departed upon their
affairs. Now a new train arrives; other crowds appear, drawn from the
vast reservoir of London, and with variations the scene repeats
itself. This time we take an active part in the play, and presently
steam out into the billows of black mist, and are lost behind the
curtain of the swinging rain. There beneath us runs the inky Thames,
sombre, mysterious-looking even, and to the eye, notwithstanding its
creeping squalor--though why this should be so it is hard to
say--endued with a grandeur that is not the property of many a nobler
stream.

Next appear countless, sordid houses, the crowded, monotonous homes,
if homes they can be called, for which tens of thousands of Englishmen
abandon the wholesome country-side and the pure air of heaven,
because--for those who can get it--here in London the wage is higher.
They are done with. Now in their place is stretched the open English
landscape, wet and wretched, its green fields showing almost grey
beneath the embracing, ashen sky, the trees mere black dots, the roads
yellow lines of mud. Yet in its own way it is beautiful, all of it, as
the face of Nature is ever beautiful to those who love her, and
knowing her moods, can sympathise with them and catch something of
their meaning.

So through these familiar things onward to the sea.

"Moderate" was the report of the Channel weather at Charing Cross,
which, as the Station-master explained mysteriously, might mean a good
deal. In fact we find it blowing a gale, for the spray drives right
over the train on to the unhappy passengers as they splash towards the
boat quivering and livid, some of them, with anticipatory qualms. But
the history of a bad crossing may well be spared. The boat did get out
and it was accomplished--at a price--that is all.


If I were asked to devise a place of punishment for sinners of what I
may chance to consider the direst decree, a first-class continental
hotel is the purgatorial spot to which I would commit them--for a
century at a time. Yes, and thither they should travel once a month
(with family) in the /waggon-lit/ of a /train de luxe/ with all the
steam-pipes turned on. And yet there are people who like hotels. I
have known some wanderers even who inhabit them from choice.
Americans, too, are very happy there. Strange it is that folk can be
so differently constituted. Rather would I dwell--for a life
choice--in a cottage in the country on a pound a week than free in
those foreign, gorgeous hostelries, where every decoration strikes you
like a blow, fed with messes such as the soul loathes, and quailing
beneath the advancing shadow of a monstrous bill. The subject is a
large one--it should be treated fitly in a book. "Hotel life and its
influence on human character" would do for the title.

I think that I must have been somewhat unfortunate in my experience of
continental travel--a kind of railway Jonah. The last time that I made
this Italian journey, for instance, at two minutes' notice my
fellow-voyagers and I, in the exact dead of night, were dragged from
our sleeping-berths, and on the top of the Alps in the midst of the
snows of winter, were transferred to an icy railway-carriage with such
of our belongings as we could grasp. One lady, I remember, in her
hurry, lost a valuable sable cloak. The reason alleged for this
performance was that the wheels of our sleeping-car had become heated,
but the conductor informed me that the real cause was a quarrel
between the directors of two lines of railway. Thrice in succession,
it would appear, and at this very spot had the wheels become "heated,"
and the travellers torn half-awakened from their berths.

On the present occasion we met with a somewhat similar experience.
Leaving Basle in the hope and expectation of reaching Milan that
night, at Lucerne we were informed that the St. Gothard was blocked by
a train which had gone off the line. So in that beautiful but cold and
expensive town we must remain for four-and-twenty hours.

Once I climbed the St. Gothard, now over thirty years ago, when a
brother and I walked from Fluellen to the top of the pass with the
purpose of bidding farewell to another brother who was travelling
across it by coach upon his way to India. In those far-off days there
was no railway, and the tunnel was not even completed. I recollect
little of the trudge except that I grew footsore, and that my brother
and senior by a year or two sang songs to me to keep up my spirits.
About half-way up the pass we slept at some village on the road. Here
the innkeeper had a pretty servant who--strange entertainment--took us
to a charnel-house attached to the church, where amongst many others
she pointed out a shining skull which she informed us was that of her
own father. This skull and its polished appearance I remember well;
also some other incidents connected with the arrival and departure of
the coach upon the summit.

Of the scenery, however, I recall little or nothing--I do not think
that views have great attractions for youth, at any rate they had few
for me. When I was a "soaring human boy" my father took me up the
Rhine by boat with the hope and expectation that my mind would be
improved in contemplating its lovely and historic banks. Wearying of
this feast, very soon I slipped down to the cabin to enjoy one more
congenial, that of "Robinson Crusoe," in a Tauchnitz edition. But some
family traitor betrayed me, and protesting, even with tears, that "I
hated views," I was dragged to the deck again. "I have paid six
thalers," shouted my justly indignant parent, as he hauled me up the
steamer stairs, "for you to study the Rhine scenery, and whether you
like it or not, young man, study it you /shall!/" That was--/eheu
fugaces labuntur anni!/--in or about 1867.

To return to the year 1900, so it came about that to all intents and
purposes, the St. Gothard was to me a new experience. Therefore I was
the more disappointed when on steaming out of Lucerne station we found
ourselves in the midst of a raging snowstorm, so fierce and thick
indeed that I began to fear that for a second time we should be
stopped in our attempt to cross the Alps.

Yet that snow had its compensations, for in it the observer
understood, better perhaps than he might otherwise have done, the
vastness of the panorama which lay outstretched beneath him. First,
all seen through that veil of flying flakes, appear forests of firs
growing tier above tier upon the face of a precipice so steep that
almost it might be a titanic wall. Then the pines vanish and are
replaced by thousands of delicate birch-trees, hanging like white hair
about some bald, gigantic head, while beneath them roars a torrent,
its waters cream-thick with snow. These vanish also as the white
curtain grows too dense for the eye to pierce. Suddenly it thins and
lifts, and there, far down below, appears a toy town with a toy
wood-built church. Next an enormous gulf, and in its depths a torrent
raging. And always a sense of mountains, invisible indeed but
overhanging, impending, vast.

Now a little hut is seen and by it a blue-robed woman, signal-flag in
hand. There, heedless of the bitter wind and weather she stands, like
the wife of Lot, stone-still and white with snow. We rush past her
into mile upon mile of tunnel, to pull up at last by some mountain
station where the drifts lie deep.

Here I beheld an instance of true politeness. Two Italian gentlemen,
one old, one young, were engaged at the useful task of clearing the
rails with long-handled shovels and depositing the snow in barrows for
removal. Presently the younger of the pair, giving way to some sudden
sportive impulse, shot a whole spadeful of snow over his companion's
head. Imagine how such an expected compliment would have been received
by the average English navvy! Next morning the police-courts would
have rung with it. As it was, remembering the fiery southern blood, I
expected to see knives flash in the mountain air. But not so. The
older person merely coughed, shook the snow from his grizzled locks,
and with a deep bow and splendid sweeping gesture--pointed to the
barrow. Could reproof have been more gentle or more effective?

Beyond the tunnels to our joy the snow is much thinner, mere patches
indeed, lying in the hollows of enormous, bold-shouldered mountains
whose steep flanks are streaked with white ropes of water, or here and
there by the foam of some great fall. In the kloofs also cling lumps
and lines of dense mist, like clouds that have sunk from heaven and
rested there. Down in the valley where the railway runs, begin to
appear evidences of a milder climate, for vines, grown upon a
trellis-work of poles, are seen in plots, and by the stream bank
flourish willows, alders, and poplars. So through changing scenes we
run southwards into Italy and welcome a softer air.

I have visited many cathedrals in various parts of the world, but I
cannot remember one that struck me more than the interior of that of
Milan, which I now explored for the first time. I say the interior
advisedly, since the exterior, with its unnumbered pinnacles and
thousands of statues, does not particularly appeal to my taste in
architecture, such as it may be. The grand proportions of the building
as viewed from within, the tall fluted columns, the rich windows, the
lace-worked roof of the marble dome--an effect produced by painting,
as a loquacious and disturbing /cicerone/ insisted upon informing us,
with many other details which we did not seek--the noble cruciform
design; all such beauties are familiar to many readers and doubtless
may be equalled, if not surpassed, elsewhere. As it happened, however,
we found more than these, or being fortunate in the time and
circumstances of our visit, to me they suggested more.

Passing the ancient door from the busy /piazza/ where electric cars
glide up and down continually like misshapen boats with bells fixed in
front of them, and pushing aside the heavy curtain of leather, of a
sudden we stood in another world. Life and death could scarcely be
more different. Vast spaces, very dim, for it was four o'clock on a
winter's day, full of shadow and a certain majestic emptiness. Column
upon column, more than the eye could number, and above, the
scarce-seen, arching roof. In the far distance of the apse something
white about the sanctuary, in fact a great veil of which I do not know
the use or symbolical significance, but from where we saw it first,
suggesting the appearance of the white wings of some angel cherishing
the altar of his God. Then upon that altar itself twinkling sparks of
light, and, swinging high in front of it, near to the towering roof
indeed, like some sleepless eye watching from above, another starry
lamp.

Along the vast nave, down the empty aisles creeps the stately,
measured music of the organ. Now quite suddenly sweet voices take up
their chant and the offering of song arises, falls to rise again, till
slowly its echoes faint and die in the spaces of the dome. As we draw
near through the cold and perfumed gloom, priests become visible,
robed in white vestments and moving to and fro about the shrine.
Others also, or may be they are acolytes, pass from time to time down
through the sparse congregation into the body of the church and there
vanish to right or left.

The invisible censers swing, we hear their clanking chains and
perceive the clouds of incense which float upwards one by one, past
the tall lights of the candles. The voices chant still more sweetly
and the music of the organ sinks low as though it too were human, and
knew that in such a hallowed dusk and silence it is well to whisper.
The bright-robed priests, from time to time breaking in upon the
ceremonial with utterances of their own that are scarcely less
harmonious, move mysteriously, waving their hands like to the officers
of some gorgeous, magic incantation, till at length--let him confess
it--the mind of the observer softens and he understands, even
sympathises with, much at which he has been wont to smile, and
presently will smile again. Great is the Church of Rome, who knows so
well how to touch our nature on its mystic side and through it reach
the heart.

To all this solemn splendour there were but few spectators. The scanty
audience of worshippers, or such of them as sat outside the choir and
could be easily observed, consisted for the greater part of aged men.
Among these one old gentleman--I should put his years at
eighty--attracted my particular attention. His face was still handsome
and sharply cut, his short hair snow-white, and his appearance that of
one who had been a soldier. Most noticeable, however, was the
extraordinary earnestness and devotion of his bearing. His presence
there could be no perfunctory observance, this was easy to be seen.
Easy was it to guess also that this man from whom, many as they had
been, the sands of life were ebbing fast, appreciated the fateful
truth only too keenly, and, while time remained to him, was
endeavouring with a desperate vigour, through the avenues provided by
his Church, to win the freedom of a more abiding city. The whole
tragic story was written there, in those upturned tearful eyes, those
clasped and trembling hands upon which even in that half light the
blue veins showed, and on the worn features so purified by time, loss,
and sorrow that no beauty of their youth could rival them to-day. A
pathetic sight indeed, rightly studied and understood, suggesting many
thoughts, but one frequent enough in such places.

So farewell to Milan cathedral, its music, priests, and mystery.
Farewell also to that sad old worshipper whose face I shall not see
again, and who for his part will never know that the Englishman
standing by his side there upon a certain winter evening took note of
him and wondered.



                              CHAPTER II

                          A TUSCAN WINE-FARM

For generations past, visitors to Italy have written about Florence.
Therefore, mindful of a certain saying, I propose to leave that noble
army unrecruited. Here the reader will find no account of the
architecture of its cathedrals; no list of the best pictures, no
raptures over the loveliness of Giotto's Campanile--a building, by the
way, that grows very much upon the observer, or at least, upon this
observer--whose charm also varies more with the conditions of the
light than any other with which I am acquainted.

Still a few general remarks may be permitted; for instance on the
climate, which is the common property of every traveller and requires
no critical training to appreciate. What a climate it is--in the month
of January--or can be, for with my common evil chance it appears that
we "happened on," as they say in Norfolk, the worst winter experienced
in Tuscany for many, many years. Such was ever my fortune! Once I went
to Iceland to fish for salmon, a country where habitually it pours,
but the summer proved the driest that had been known for decades. To
the ordinary traveller this would have been a satisfactory
circumstance, to the seeker after salmon, which love a swollen river,
it was disastrous. Other notable instances occur to me but I pass them
by, for, according to the accounts of all inhabitants of the places
visited, these misfortunes are common to voyaging mankind.

Within the space of a single month we enjoyed at Florence piercing
gales--/tramontane/ is the local name, which reminded me of winds I
have felt blowing straight off the pack ice in northern latitudes and
nothing else--fogs that would have done no discredit to London in
November, and rains whereof the tropics might be proud. When the
/tramontane/ in its glory leaps and howls along the dusky streets of
Florence, then indeed does the traveller think with a repentant
affection of the very bleakest spot he knows upon England's eastern
shores, yes, even on the bitterest day of March.

Is there anything in the wind line quite so deadly cold, I wonder? At
least clothes cannot prevail against it, for wrap yourself up till you
look like a very Falstaff and still the temperature within is that of
a snow-man. To the bones it pierces, to the very marrow. Yet for
generations these extraordinary Florentines built their houses without
fireplaces. I remember noting the same phenomenon in Mexico City,
another frigid spot; there, indeed, they swore that fires were
unwholesome. Here the sole concession of a vast majority of the
inhabitants to our common human weakness, consists of a /scaldino/,
that is, a little pot full of glowing wood ashes which is placed under
the owner's chair, or carried in any convenient fashion. Men, I
gather, have not even the comfort of this instrument of joy, which
among its many uses in the event of sickness, or of damp sheets, makes
an excellent warming-pan. In this case it is suspended in a kind of
enlarged wooden mouse-cage and plunged boldly between the blankets. Of
all the domestic institutions in Tuscany, I think that the /scaldino/
is most to be desired. There are others which strike me as far from
admirable.

I do not wish, however, to asperse this climate, against which I may
have been more or less prejudiced by the prevalent influenza, which
hit us rather hard. I am instructed indeed that except for certain, or
uncertain, outbursts of cold, it is really beautiful in April and May,
and even for the first part of June, after which it becomes too hot
for the taste and comfort of most people. The autumns also are said to
be fine.

Moreover, it is only Florence itself that is so severe. During the
first few weeks of my stay there I visited some country villas, one
"two mountains beyond Fiesole" (that was the local description and
means very high indeed), and another on the lower slopes of the same
ancient city, which is built among the hill-tops about three miles to
the north-east of Florence. At each of these villas I found the most
lovely satisfying sunshine, in which a man might bask like a lizard
till at length the chill left his bones. There I was told that the
crowning joy to the dwellers in these mansions of the blest, is to sit
in golden light on their verandahs and for quite a considerable
portion of the winter look at a damp, dark cloud far below, which
cloud is Florence hid in icy fog. Decidedly a villa at Fiesole, where
the mists cannot creep and because of its sheltered position the
/tramontane/ has no power, is a possession to be coveted--far above a
palace on the Arno.

Yet when the winter voyager can forget the climate, what city has
greater charm than Florence, if to some, its note seems one of
melancholy? Here, so pervading is its presence, history seems to press
upon the student with an actual sense of weight. The numberless
churches, some of them still unfinished; the cold, stately palaces;
the public buildings and /piazzas/; the statues, monuments, and
pictures; all things distinguishing and distinguished belonging for
the most part, as they do, to a single century, seem to bring the dead
time and those who shaped it as it was, so near to us that in its
shadow the present is made mean and dwarfed. All the intervening
generations that the locust has eaten, those dim, quite forgotten
generations which once in their hour furnished the daily bread of
Time, appear to drop away. In our garish modernity, wearing no wedding
garment of their art, we find ourselves unbidden guests at this
banquet of the past--face to face with the age of Donatello and Fra
Bartolommeo and Savonarola and the great Medici, and of the rest who
lived when Florence was in flower. The effect is strange. Perhaps it
does not strike the Italian thus, or even those foreigners who are
constant residents. Perhaps in this case also, such as seek find, and
the period which gave Florence her glory, is the period which
oppresses us now that her sons are no longer mighty preachers,
painters, or architects.

Why is it? Who can explain the mystery of the change? Why, when we
look into a picture or sculpture shop on the Lung' Arno, for instance,
do we see on the one side replicas of the famous and beautiful
antique; and, on the other, marbles indeed, but what marbles!
Simpering children in frilled dresses; young women with their nudity
accentuated by means of bathing drawers; vulgar-looking busts of
vulgar-looking men; coy creatures smirking at butterflies seated on
their naked arms or bosoms, and other sculptured delights. But never a
work that has a spark of the old Promethean fire, which elevates its
student, or moves him--at any rate as art should move.

Of painting and buildings is it not the same? Where has the genius
flown and will it ever return? I know the fashion is to decry our
modern English art, and doubtless much of it is poor. Yet so far as my
small experience goes, that art has, at any rate in some instances,
more truth and spirit than any other of the day which I have found
abroad.

I have said that I will not discourse upon the art treasures of
Florence. Still I may be permitted to mention two, by no means of the
best known, which perhaps impressed me most among them. Of these one
is a certain life-sized Annunciation by Donatello, fashioned of a
dark-coloured freestone, cut in high relief and set into a very gloomy
wall of the church of Santa Croce. It was, I believe, one of the
master's early works, but looking at it I wondered whether he ever
fashioned anything more beautiful. The Virgin is of a somewhat modern
type of face, with rippling hair parted in the middle; indeed I can
remember a lady who might have sat for a model of that statue. As for
the exquisite grace of her pose and shape, or that of the angel who
bends the knee to her, to be understood they must be seen. Description
here is hopeless; I can say only that in my case at any rate they
affect the mind as does the sight of some perfect landscape, or of a
lovely flower breaking into bloom.

What imagination also is comprised in the Virgin's pose. She has risen
from her seat and her left hand clasps the book she reads. Her robe
has caught upon a corner of the chair so that her mantle is strained
tight. What under ordinary conditions would be a woman's first
instinctive thought? Doubtless to free it with the hand that was
disengaged. But no--the message has come to her--the Power has fallen
upon her, and that hand is pressed upon the heart wherein It lies.
There is much else that might be said of this true masterpiece, but
let an artist say it, not one merely of art's most humble admirers.

The second work that struck me pre-eminently, although in a fashion
totally different, is in the church of Certosa di Val d'Ema. It is by
Francesco da Sangallo, and represents in white marble the body of the
Cardinal Leonardo Buonafede, who died in 1545, as laid out for burial.
Not an attractive subject it may be thought, this corpse of an old,
old man. Yet with what power and truth is it treated; those full,
somewhat coarse features are instinct with the very dignity of death.
There before us is the man as his mourners laid him upon the bier
centuries ago--every line of his wrinkled face, every fold of his
flesh that after serving him so well has failed him now. It is a
triumph of forceful portraiture.

The old monastery where this statue lies, and with it others almost as
perfect, is a strange and lovely place. Inhabited by a few ancient
monks who, under the Italian law abolishing the religious
establishments, are, I believe, not allowed to recruit their numbers;
a vast pile of rambling buildings fortified for defence, it stands
supreme upon a cypress-covered hill. Its interior with the halls,
chapels, crypts, and columned galleries need not be described. Indeed,
quaint as they are, there is something better here--the view from
certain windows and cloisters.

This prospect is quite unlike any that I have seen in other parts of
the world. Perhaps some of the high uplands of Mexico, with their
arid, aloe-clothed soil, go nearest to it in general character and
colouring, though that is not so very near. The prevailing colour-note
of Tuscany, in winter, is greyness. This tone it owes chiefly, though
not altogether, to the sad-hued olives which clothe its slopes and
plains, broken here and there by rows and clumps of tall and gracious
cypresses, standing sometimes, and thus they are most beautiful, upon
a mountain ridge clear-cut against the sky. Let the reader visit any
good art-collection and study the backgrounds of old Florentine
pictures. There he will find those same cypresses. So grey and
hueless, though so strangely charming, is the scene indeed, that the
eye falls almost with rapture upon the vivid patches furnished by a
species of rosy-twigged sallow which grows in the damper bottoms.
Considered from above these sallows look like no bush or tree; they
are as little golden clouds that have fallen from heaven to melt upon
the earth.

Other peculiarities of that wide stretch of plain and mountain-slope
are its lifelessness and silence. Were this England, or even Africa,
birds great and small, animals also, would be audible and moving. But
here, nothing. Not a note, not a beating wing, not even the white scut
of a rabbit. So far as small fowl are concerned the explanation is
easy; they form one of the favourite articles of Florentine food. In
every eating-shop, thrust through with a skewer, may be seen their
tiny bodies separated from each other by squares of toast, or bacon.

I remember that a man in front of the cathedral offered to sell me a
bundle of dead birds which I examined. They included robins, thrushes,
blackbirds, goldfinches, and jays, taken, most of them, with
bird-lime. Needless to add of these birds the jays, which I should
have imagined uneatable, were the only ones which ought to have been
killed. What is the result? In a long walk through wooded country in
the neighbourhood of Fiesole, although I kept my eyes open, I saw but
one small bird, which was so wild that it would not let me get near
enough to distinguish its species. Just before that rare event I had
met a sportsman with a double-barrelled gun and shortly afterwards I
heard a shot. Probably this last little bird is now no more. No wonder
that Browning was anxious to get back to England in April--


            "Oh! to be in England now that April's here"--


living as he did in a country where scarcely a songster is left to
greet the spring. How thankful should we be for our English birds,
which add so much to the innocent happiness of our lives--the sparrow
always excepted, and even he is welcome in a town. In the garden of
the old and rambling house where I stayed in Florence lived some of
these sparrows, and two cherished pairs of black-birds, which I used
to contemplate from my window. Also there were sundry stray cats, and
sometimes I wonder if those birds will ever see the autumn. May St.
Francis (he of Assisi) protect them.

I think that it was on the day of our visit to Certosa, where by the
way, as I have neglected to mention, the monks make excellent
Chartreuse, that I became the proud possessor of a bronze crucifix and
two hanging lamp-holders, which I discovered in a small
curiosity-shop. These articles, with a bell which I did not purchase,
were part of the furniture of the ancient chapel of a private family
which has become extinct--that of the Cardinal Luperelli-Pitti in
Cortona. Thus they found their way into the market. They are, I
imagine, sixteenth century work, though here I may be mistaken, as I
can judge only by such knowledge of Dutch brass as I possess. It is
possible, indeed, that the raised medallions of the Father, the
Virgin, St. John and St. Mary Magdalene, at the four extremities of
the cross, may show a somewhat earlier date.

My reason for mentioning these articles, however, is because of the
great elegance of the shape and workmanship of the lamp-holders,
whereof unfortunately I can give no idea in words, and the quaintness
of the little figures suggestive of embryonic angels to which are
fixed the hanging chains. Why, I ask, cannot such antiques be taken as
models for the church furniture of to-day in England? Any churchwarden
or clergyman will know how extraordinarily difficult it is to procure
lamps of really handsome and pleasing design.[*] Yet it rarely seems
to occur to makers to copy those which were fashioned in times when
even the manufacturer of useful brass-work was not ashamed to be an
artist.

[*] In the church at Heacham in Norfolk may be seen a set of hanging
    lamps presented to it by Mr. Neville Rolfe, the British Consul at
    Naples. These beautiful pierced holders are reproduced from one
    that hangs in the sanctuary of St. Mark's Cathedral at Venice.
    Their design is well worthy of the attention of any who desire to
    follow Mr. Rolfe's excellent example, and provide an English
    church with lamps that are as serviceable as they are satisfactory
    to the eye and taste.

Unhappily it is not in the case of church-fittings only that such a
state of affairs prevails, especially in this matter of lamps. A year
or two back I remember searching the entire stock of a great London
establishment before I could procure hanging lamps that were even
simple, and, to my fancy, of a not unpleasing shape. When in Florence
itself I looked through the contents of a shop where such articles
were sold, with a like result. All were florid in execution and vulgar
in design.

It is the same everywhere in the case of brass-work. Thus some of my
readers may have noticed the beautiful seventeenth-century chandeliers
which still hang in certain of the churches of Holland--/kerk-kröne/
they are called--and have noticed too how pleasingly they attract the
eye, making bright points whereby it can appreciate the dimensions of
those great fanes. Yet when gas became common, in very many cases
these /kerk-kröne/ were pulled out of the churches to be sold as old
brass and replaced by cast gun-metal brackets of the most atrocious
patterns. Yes, and this was done although the ancient chandeliers are
capable of easy adaptation to the use of gas. As a consequence they
are now becoming very rare.

Why do not the Arts and Crafts add the education of the taste of the
British lamp-maker to the list of their good works? Hundreds of
artists complain that they cannot make a living. Let them do as men of
their profession did a few centuries ago, and direct their talents to
the design and manufacture at a moderate price of really beautiful
articles for common use. So shall their generation rise up and call
them blessed. Perhaps, however--I have heard as much suggested--the
generation as a whole prefers things as they are.

One day I accepted the kind invitation of a gentleman who lives on the
mountain about four hundred feet above Fiesole, the ancient Etruscan
city that preceded Florence, to inspect his vineyard, where he
manufactures wine for the English market. The view from this farm is
very fine, including as it does Florence spread out like a map far
below, and an enormous stretch of country dotted with villas,
farmhouses, and even ancient castles that in past ages have been the
scene of siege and sack. This expanse is divided into hundreds of
vineyards and olive orchards, broken here and there on the slope of
hills with patches of oak scrub which is used for firewood. My host's
farm is approached up a steep and constant incline that winds through
a large wood of cypress trees, sombre but graceful in appearance
although in most instances disfigured by the local habit of trimming
off the boughs as high as possible. This is done under the impression,
which I believe to be erroneous, that it improves the timber. At any
rate it does not improve its beauty.

The farmstead itself is very ancient, some parts of it dating back to
the fourteenth century. Indeed everything here is ancient. It has a
pretty little court or /cortile/ with graceful arches round about it,
adorned in the centre with an old effigy of a lion in stone, which was
dug up somewhere in the neighbourhood. In front of this court is a
well nearly a hundred feet deep--probably Etruscans drew their water
here. Looking downwards I could see the ripple on the face of the pool
which shows where the spring flows that has fed it for so many
centuries. The well has this peculiarity also--that it can be
approached for the drawing of water at two distinct levels, the lower
having an arched entrance of its own which opens on to a terrace
twenty feet or more below. Another remarkable feature of the house is
a very massive wooden roof covering the apartments now used as
sitting-rooms.

Few of these wine-farms seem to be large. My host's, I gathered, is of
the common size, some twenty acres under vines and olives, excluding
such portion as is still unreclaimed and as yet produces nothing but
scrub and stray cypress trees. There is absolutely no live stock on
the place beyond a horse and a cow for domestic use, such carting as
may be necessary being done with hired ox-wains, picturesque in
appearance, but slow and cumbersome in practice.

As I saw it, this is the process of preparing land for vines. A
suitable area having been chosen on the steep slope of a hill facing
south-east, which seems to be the aspect preferred, the shale soil,
mixed with what looked to me like light loam covered with a good spit
of turf, is trenched to a depth of a little over three feet. First a
foot or so of broken rock is laid in the bottom of the trench for
drainage before it is filled up with the soil and turf. This is the
most important requisite. More than twenty years ago at Pretoria in
the Transvaal I remember, by the way, making a little vineyard on a
very similar soil and in a very similar fashion; only labour being
scarce and inefficient, I did not trench nearly so thoroughly.

Our host is now planting vines of a Burgundy character, setting them
as cuttings at a good distance from each other. These take from three
to four years to come into full bearing. American vines are much
sought after in this part of Tuscany because of their supposed quality
of resistance to the attacks of phylloxera, which dread disease is the
blackest cloud on the horizon of the Italian grape-grower. These,
however, seem very difficult to obtain of good and true stock, owing
apparently to the existence of Government regulations prohibiting the
importation of foreign vines, trees, or flowers.

Not satisfied with the ample drainage provided at the roots and by the
natural slope of the land, stone channels are laid upon the surface to
carry off flood-water. Vines, it has been proved, are very fastidious
as to their supply of moisture, although in some seasons of drought
they are much helped by irrigation where this is practicable. What
they dislike more than anything, however, is stagnant water at the
roots. The other requisites to a successful cultivation of the grape
in this part of Italy are that the soil should be dug annually between
the rows, and artificial manures, such as nitrates and phosphates,
applied in suitable quantity.

In the older vineyards below this house many olive trees grow among
the vines, but my host informs me that they are unremunerative. A
great number of these trees were destroyed during November in the
following curious fashion. First fell a heavy rain, which was
succeeded instantly by a severe frost that coated every bough with
ice. The trees could not bear the weight, and in many instances
snapped in two or lost their largest boughs, a mutilation which was
often shared by the young firs. I noted this destruction on my walk up
to the house, and ignorantly jumped to the conclusion that a tornado
had visited the district. On this farm the olive trees which were
slain thus are not to be replanted.

The actual vintage, which of course answers to our harvest, occupies a
few days only, nearly one hundred hands being employed upon this small
acreage, so that the grapes may be got off when they are exactly ripe.
Here it is that the wine-farmer must show judgment and even courage.
The grapes ought not to be gathered before they are ripe. But if wet
weather chances to come on then so that they cannot be handled, they
crack and great damage is done. Therefore the temptation to begin the
vintage too soon is considerable.

Once plucked the grapes are brought up to the house in hired
ox-waggons, there to go through the various processes of pressing.
When this is completed the wine is stored for a while in huge vats
holding I forget how many hundred gallons, but I think about a
thousand. There it remains for a certain period. Then it is drawn off
into other casks and kept for three years or so, after which the
produce of this particular vineyard goes to the English market. My
host informed me that it is quite a mistake to suppose that the red
Italian Chianti will not travel and keep without undue alcoholic
fortification. The new wine has this weakness, not so the old. That
there are limits to its keeping qualities I can, however, testify.
Long ago I remember my father producing from his cellar some flasks of
Italian wine, which he had imported when on his wedding tour to Rome
some forty years before. I never tasted better vinegar.

To return my host finds that he can make a fair profit on his Chianti
by charging eighteen shillings a dozen for it delivered in London. At
least this was so, but since Sir Michael Hicks-Beach has increased the
duty on light drinking wines there is a different tale to tell. As
regards the quality and character of the wine, although it cannot
compete with high-class French clarets, it is very sound and agreeable
to the palate. Above all, it is pure grape-juice and nothing else.

On the day of my visit some men, about four or five, were employed in
the wine-cave washing the flasks with successive rinsings of soda,
acid, and water hot and cold. This careful cleansing was preparatory
to the wine being bottled for shipment, really bottled with corks, not
with oil poured into the neck to exclude the air, and a piece of pink
paper, according to the local custom. These flasks or /fiaschi/, which
are very pretty, and half covered with reed netting, cost about a
penny halfpenny apiece, but I noticed that a good percentage of them
break in the washing. Hence the term "fiasco" used in our sense; or,
to be quite accurate, it is derived from the breaking of a full
wine-flask when lifted by the neck.

A supplementary product of the farm is olive oil, that is ground out
by the help of an ox which walks round and round and drives a simple
crushing-mill. The raw resulting oil is divided into three grades or
qualities, of which the second is best for lamps, and the third mixed
with water is used by the poor. This season the olive harvest was a
very bad one, consequently oil is dear.

As regards the profit of such vineyards, my host seemed to be of
opinion that a man of energy and intelligence, taking one year with
another, in the absence of phylloxera, can make about ten per cent.
upon the capital invested. Other experienced vine-growers, however,
told me that they consider this estimate too high. Then comes the
question of the capital itself. Even in the case of a vineyard of
moderate size I gather that the amount required is considerable. The
farmer may begin on less, but if he wishes to earn a living out of his
labour, it seems that he ought to be able to command about £5000.

The item of labour in the neighbourhood of Florence is not heavy, the
men, who are docile and willing, being paid only about eight shillings
a week. They decline, however, to work in wet weather, nor are they
very strong, living as they do upon poor and insufficient food, and at
times in their fireless hovels suffering severely from the cold.

The result of my investigations into the prospects of the Tuscan wine
industry is that, on the whole, I should not recommend it to young men
seeking new lands in which to farm. The capital required seems too
considerable and the margin of profit too small. Moreover there is
always the possibility of phylloxera to be reckoned with. Still, for
those to whom considerations of health or other private reasons may
make residence in a sunny climate under a foreign flag desirable, who
at the same time to do not wish or cannot afford to lead an idle life,
the occupation would be excellent. To live beneath those sheltering
hills, to feast the eyes upon that glorious view, to watch the vines
put forth their tender leaves, to see the tiny clusters form and in
autumn to gather the rich harvest all in the glow of a glorious
sun--what more could be asked by the man of quiet, contemplative mind,
who yet loves not to be idle? Or, at the least, what more is he likely
to get in this hard world?



                             CHAPTER III

                         FIESOLE AND FLORENCE

One bitter night at moonrise I stood near to the highest point of the
mountain of Fiesole and looked down upon the wide valley in whose lap
lies Florence, far down across lines of solemn cypresses and grey
groves of olives to the vast plain beneath. Cold and dead-coloured
appeared old Fiesole, now that the sun had left it; cold, yet lovely,
with a death-like loveliness, the vague and stretching landscape. And
Florence herself, that great city, how small she seemed at this
distance of some few miles! Her towering palaces of huge stones were
but as huts, the vast dome of her cathedral as that of a village
church. The landscape dominates and dwarfs her. The sweeping circle of
black hills; that mighty mirror of the Arno flashing in the last ray
of sunset--what is she compared to these? The ancient Etruscan
studying that view from this very standpoint, can have felt no need of
Florence to complete the scene, and were she rased now to the earth as
in the middle days one of her rulers would have rased her, she would
scarce be missed--from here. In fact it is the old story. These hills
and plains have borne the yoke of man almost from the beginning, and
yet how faint its scar! The scratches which we make on Nature's face
are very shallow and soon heal. That there is nothing permanent about
man and his labours, is a truism which the consideration of such a
scene as this brings home. Those thousand lamps that are now beginning
to shine in the streets and windows of Florence far below, will only
burn--till at dawn the light of lights arises.

In the winter season, at the time of approaching night, there is
something very mysterious and melancholy about this Tuscan landscape.
It looks so coldly solemn, so lifeless, while one by one the stars
spring out in the blue depths above.

One meets a great many funerals in Florence, all of them after
nightfall. Perhaps this may be accounted for by the influenza
prevailing at the time of my stay, but as a people the Florentines
seem to me to have a strange fancy for parading their sick and dead in
public. At the least I have not noticed so many of these melancholy
sights in other cities. Very common is it, as the visitor walks down
some narrow street, to hear a measured tread behind, and look round to
see the brethren of the /Misericordia/ at their work of mercy. These
are they who, drawn from every rank of society, for more than five
centuries have laid out the dead, or carried the sick of Florence to
where they might be succoured. Their very appearance indeed is ominous
of death and sorrow; when they come upon the sight thus swiftly it
even shocks.

Their robes are black from head to foot, covering the wearer, all but
his hands and feet, so that nothing of him can be seen save perhaps
his eyes as they glitter through the little openings in the hood. Six
of them go together, three in front and three behind, and between them
is the stretcher, also arched over with black cloth. These stretchers
are apt to excite a somewhat morbid curiosity in the mind of the
passer-by. Watching many of them I learned at last to know, by the way
the crossed straps pressed upon the shoulders of the bearers, and the
fashion in which these stepped and set their feet upon the ground,
whether or no they were empty or laden; also by any little movements
of the cover, or the lack of them, whether the occupant, if there
should be one, was alive or dead.

From time to time the bell of the church sounds the "/misericordia/,"
twice for an accident, thrice for a death. Thereon the brethren who
are on duty, rise up at once wherever they may be, at dinner, at mass,
in the theatre, or at their business, don their robes and go forth,
not to come back until their task, whatever it proves, is done. As the
first pair of them set their returning feet upon the threshold of the
church they turn and give to those who follow, the ancient greeting,
"May God reward you!" to receive back the salutation, "And you also!"

It is a worthy society and their work is holy, though perhaps the
ambulances of a London hospital would do it better. Also here is no
mere picturesque survival. One day while I stood for a few minutes
near the Campanile I saw three parties of them come up to the door of
the commonplace, green-shuttered house which is their habitation. Each
company carried a stretcher, though whether these were empty or
brought bodies thither to be coffined, I could not tell.

Who are the greatest men in the true sense that have lived since the
day of our Lord? The question is difficult if not impossible to
answer. Yet three names leap to my mind, all of them oddly enough
connected with religion: Martin Luther, William the Silent,
Savonarola. If these stars do not shine most bright among that
heavenly host, I think that there are none more luminous, none at
least that burn with a purer fire, none with one more immortal.

Of the three Savonarola has always fascinated me the most, perhaps
because a man instinctively gives reverence to an abnegation and a
nobility from which he feels that his own weakness would have locked
him. We worship the crown of thorns we dare not wear. Savonarola was
no pale-blooded monk, no mere shadow of a man, but one to whose ears
the world had a siren voice. He could love and he could suffer, and
finally take up his cross not because he had loved and suffered, not
that its grinding weight might cause him to forget his worldly smarts,
but for the high reason that the days were evil and he was called to
deny himself and cure them.

Surely this man was almost a Christ without Christ's consolations and
secret strength. He only saw through a glass darkly, he only knew in
part. The Spirit spoke within him, but its accents were broken,
imperfect and contradictory; he could not hear with any clearness;
often he could not understand what he heard. At times he believed his
own prophecies to be the very voice of God. At times he seems to have
doubted whether they were not merely vapours arising from his harrowed
soul, the fantastic smoke of his own fervid imagination fashioned to
angel shapes to lead him through a gateway of the presumptuous sin.
See him when the trial by fire brings him face to face with a more
furious trial--that of his own faith. He had interpreted the promises
literally; he taught that faith could move mountains. But had he not
meant spiritual mountains? Did he really believe that the Powers of
Heaven would alter the law of nature and keep the fire from peeling
off the flesh and burning the hair and the garments of the Fra
Domenico? He wavered, he hung between two opinions. Then faith
conquered. The ordeal went on so far as it was allowed to go, till
rain fell indeed and put out the untrodden fire, and the furious
populace, baulked of a blood-feast, turning upon their prophet
tortured and slew him by rope and flame.

The home of this man stands in Florence much as it was in his own day.
There is the church of San Marco, an uninteresting building with the
pulpit from which he used to preach, until his audiences grew so great
that even the vast Duomo could not hold them. One day I attended this
Duomo--that is, the cathedral--in order to witness a procession of the
White Brethren. Except for the colour of their garment this order is
clothed like the Brethren of the /Misericordia/, and indeed, as I
believe, performs similar merciful offices outside the gates of
Florence. The occasion was a great festival, and these White Brethren,
preceded by priests and banners, carrying, each of them, a lighted
taper, wound about the building, to gather at last in masses before
the altar. This, however, at any rate to my eye, was not the real
sight. That was to see the thousands upon thousands of spectators
which crowded, not the dome only, but the whole cathedral to its
utmost recesses, so densely indeed that it was difficult to move.
"Thus," thought I to myself, "must this Duomo have appeared when its
walls rang to the echoes of the voice of Savonarola as he rolled out
his threats and warnings upon a sinful generation, as he told of the
sword of God about to fall--/Gladius Domini supra terram cito et
velociter/."

At first, however, it was in this church of San Marco that he
preached, and surely the lessons of his life and death will echo from
its walls down all the stream of Time.

Yet the convent moves one more. Here are the cloisters planted with
roses where Savonarola used to walk; the chapter-house with its
life-sized and dreadful crucifixes; the vaulted refectories where he
ate his simple food among his brethren. Upstairs too is the library
with its double row of supporting arches, quite plain and yet so
beautiful, beneath whose centre the prophet stood to administer the
Sacrament to his company while without, the furious mob of Florentine
wolves clawed down the doors, snarling for his blood.

The day that we visited the place was very cold though bright, and for
this reason, or some other, it was almost unoccupied. As I discovered
afterwards in Palestine, it is thus that one should study such abodes.
Foolish as it may be to think it, a crowd disturbs their associations
and memories; sometimes even it seems to make them vulgar. So it
happened that we went round San Marco alone, untroubled by guides or
tourists.

The details of the convent are all known, and volumes have been
written about the paintings of Fra Angelico, many of which are so
beautiful and yet so simple, that they might well be visions of heaven
and its inhabitants seen by some spiritual child. On the walls of many
of the cells the patient Brother painted one of them, and had I been
destined to dwell there I should have blessed his name. When a man has
nothing else to look at save white walls, a picture in blue and red
and gold by Fra Angelico would fill the mind with rapture. Only some
times I should have wished to move on a little and study the next
design.

Of all these narrow, white-washed apartments, however, that once were
the home of passionate and earnest men, wrestling their way to heaven
by a thorny, doubtful path, long-forgotten dust now, every one of
them, those that most fix the mind and fascinate the imagination were
the abode of Savonarola. From the cloisters without the visitor sees
two little windows, each a few feet square. At the end of a long
passage on the upper floor are the apartments, not larger than an
ordinary dressing-room, to which those windows with their massive
hanging shutters give light, a place to sleep and a place to sit. Here
the pious visitor who is of that mind, through the mere fact of
visiting them obtains--or obtained by the decree of Pope Leo X., who
flourished at the beginning of the sixteenth century--"an indulgence
of ten years," whatever that may mean. The inner cell contains a copy
of an ancient picture of the hanging and burning of its greatest
occupant upon the /piazza/. It is very much a work of fancy,
representing in a stiff, conventional manner the three poor corpses
hanging each to its cross while the fire curls around them, and little
knots of spectators strolling about unconcernedly over the expanse of
the great square. Very different, I imagine, was the real scene when
the place was packed with thousands of excited onlookers. There they
watched and shouted while the mighty martyr whose blood was indeed a
seed of righteousness, with his disciples was stripped of his robes by
the brutal Dominicans, traitors to their most famous brother, and with
due pomp and form publicly degraded by the bishop of Vasons.

"I separate thee from the Church militant and triumphant," cried the
bishop, exulting over his fallen foe.

"Not from the Church triumphant, that is beyond thy power," through
all the ages rings the answer of the dying prophet.

Then the yells of the mob, the last dread scene of death prolonged to
its uttermost, the crackling of the eager pyre, the flames blown out
straight like a banner by a sudden gust of roaring wind, the shouts of
"A miracle! a miracle!" and as the wind passes and the fire gets to
its destroying work again, the sound of the sobbing of the Piagnoni
and the sight of their tears which fall like dew.

Even this copied painting is old now, so old that the worms are busy,
as the tiny holes and little piles of white dust upon the frame
testify. I pointed this out to the custodian, and suggested that
paraffin skilfully applied might prolong the life of the panel, but he
only shrugged his shoulders. Doubtless he thought that it would last
his lifetime--after that others could see to it.

The outer place is that where Savonarola sat and worked for years.
Here he wrote his notes for the sermons which shook the world, his
commentaries upon portions of the Bible in that tiny illegible
handwriting, and his treatise against the trial by fire. Here hangs
the robe in which he went to torture and execution, that same robe
whereof the Dominican stripped him. Here too are kept his hair-shirt,
the rosary which his long nervous fingers must so often have counted
as he bent over it in prayer, and his Bibles. The curious chair in
which he was wont to sit is here also, with an exact copy of his deal
desk--the original has crumbled away--and beneath it a platform of
some more enduring wood worn by the shuffling of his feet.

There on the wall is his portrait, the strong, large-nosed,
thick-lipped face framed in a black hood, so ugly and yet so
fascinating. One feels that the owner of this face might easily have
become a sensuous brute, and yet by the grace that was given him he
became one of the greatest of saints. The flesh was trodden down, the
spirit triumphed. Yes, and in this spot it seems to live on. Something
of the atmosphere which environed Savonarola, something of the essence
that inhabited him, appears to occupy the place which he himself
inhabited. His breath is about those ancient walls, his prayers, so
strangely answered, yet echo round them. To some at least it is not
hard to imagine that his ghost or its reflection still dwells there.
It is a chamber to leave with a bowed head and a humble heart.

The palace of the Signoria is surmounted by a famous and beautiful
tower of wondrous architecture that soars I forget how many hundred
feet into the air. Quite near to the top of this tower the visitor,
who has the breath to climb it, is shown a tiny prison with a stone
seat and a single slit to furnish it with light and air, through
which, looking down, he may see the church of Santa Croce. Here for
some forty days Savonarola was incarcerated, and hence from time to
time he was led down to the torture which his frail flesh could not
bear. Here too, whenever his agonies were abated, he wrote some of his
last commentaries. What a picture this monk must have presented as he
dragged his crushed and twisted limbs from the torment-place of the
Bargello, up those countless stairs to lay his poor head down upon the
stone while the great bell of Florence boomed out the hours of the
night above him.

Below in this same palace is that gorgeous apartment known as the Hall
of the Five Hundred. When some years before Savonarola urged its
enlargement to a size which would allow it to contain two thousand
citizens, his spirit of prophecy did not tell him that here he would
be tried and condemned, that here also he would pass some of the
latest and most holy hours of his life. In this great chamber for the
last time, or rather the last before the last, the master and his two
disciples, Domenico and Sylvestro, met after their forty days of
torment, each of them having been assured that the others had recanted
and betrayed them. Here then Savonarola prayed with them, counselling
them to submit to doom meekly but bravely; here he blest and bade them
farewell. What a subject for the hand of an artist! But he should be a
great artist.

One day I paid a visit to the kind and fortunate possessor of a
certain most ancient and beautiful villa on the lower slope of the
Fiesole mountain. It is a vast building with great cool rooms, on the
walls of one of which is frescoed the portrait of some one's pet dog
that died hundreds of years ago, and beneath it a touching epitaph.
The building is old indeed, for its history can be traced since the
year nine hundred and odd, and the family from whom the present owners
bought it, held the property for over five centuries. In the garden,
also, is the very well used by Boccaccio as the gathering-place where
his gay party of gallants and their ladies, flying from the pest in
Florence, wiled away the heat of a summer day by telling to each other
stories. Were those Arcadian tales written and published in this year
of grace almost might they earn their author six weeks in gaol and the
opportunity of posing as a martyr to the zeal of Puritans. As it is
they are classics; therefore, like the masterpieces of Queen Margaret
of Navarre and of Rabelais, they may circulate unafraid.

Perhaps the most beautiful thing, however, about this beautiful house
is the prospect which it commands, for from its verandahs in clear
weather can be seen a stretch of no less than thirty leagues of hill,
plain, and valley. On the whole, I think that my most pleasing
recollection of Florence and its neighbourhood is this white and
ancient villa and the marvellous landscape which lies beneath and
around it for miles on miles.



                              CHAPTER IV

                               POMPEII

It is the fashion of Englishmen to decry their own customs and
institutions. How common it is, for instance, to hear our system of
railway travelling compared unfavourably with that of other countries;
and yet in what foreign land does the traveller meet with half the
comfort, assistance, and civility that he finds at home? Take the
question of luggage. Theoretically the fashion of booking may be
perfect; in practice, at any rate in Italy, it means that you lose
your portmanteaus. Under our despised habit of labelling, on the other
hand, during many years of travel I have never as yet lost a single
article. Again, consider the much-vaunted warming of trains. All I can
say is that for my part far, far rather would I travel in the coldest
compartment than in the heated infernos with every air-hole
hermetically sealed, that are fashionable in the continental
corridor-carriages. Then the porters. Is there a more civil being than
the average English porter, and one more contented with a very humble
fee? Compare him with the gentleman of his profession across the
Channel. Sometimes, moreover, these simply are not, the passenger must
carry his own things or leave them behind; and seldom is one met with
who does not grumble at his fee however ample.

As a specimen journey our own from Florence to Rome is one to be
remembered. First, as usual, we were penned up like sheep. Then, by
dint of bribery, as we were informed that the train would be full, my
nephew was smuggled on to the platform to secure two seats. Having got
their money those who accompanied him did not return. In the end
indeed, no porter being available, a lady who had come to see me off
and I were personally obliged to drag a considerable number of heavy
articles for a distance of over a hundred yards just as the express
was about to start. It was crowded, the habit upon most foreign
railways being to run as few trains and furnish them with as few
carriages as possible. In this one there was not a seat to spare, but
the overcrowding was nothing in the scale of discomfort compared to
the heat, which I should imagine cannot have registered much less than
ninety degrees. We ventured to open a window in the corridor, whereon
instantly a fellow-traveller sprang up, rushed and shut it with a
slam. Yet these are the people whose houses throughout their bitter
winter are innocent of fires. I can only conclude that here we
discover a tribute to the frugal mind. The warmth in the railway
carriages costs nothing, it is included in the fare. Therefore they
absorb as much of it as possible.

The end of this particular journey was as wretched as the beginning.
Half-way to Rome, in conformity with my common experience, a train
went off the line in front of us, and so at some wayside place we were
delayed for hours, the English among us marching up and down the
platform in the biting cold to escape the airless heat within.
Finally, instead of the scheduled time of eleven at night, we arrived
in Rome at something past three in the morning--without on this
occasion, I am proud to say, losing any of our luggage.

Rome! What is the chance visitor who sees it for the first time to say
of the Imperial City? Silence is best. What struck you most there?
people are fond of asking. Well, for my part, everything struck me,
not forgetting the fearful weather which it was our fortune to
encounter. During the first day that I was in Rome, it rained in
torrents, snowed and thundered, while the atmosphere was that of an
ice-house. No wonder that there were I forget how many tens of
thousands of people down with the influenza, a company to which
presently I added one more humble unit.

But what struck me most? Well, one or two little things, for in the
words of Herodotus, of the great ones out of the scantiness of my
experience I do not consider it "lawful to speak." In the Colosseum,
opposite to the place where the Caesars sat on days of festival and
slaughter, and if I remember right, in the neighbourhood of that
occupied by the Vestals, is an avenue, or entrance, which was called,
I think, the Triumphant Way. By it, we were told, the gladiators
marched in before they crossed the arena to give their famous
salutation to the emperor, that same salutation which, unconsciously
perhaps, day by day from the beginning to the end of Time the whole
creation renders to its Creator, "Those about to die, salute thee!"
Their "triumphant" feet must have trod upon a long-vanished wooden
flooring. Beneath this floor ran a dark passage--one can see it
to-day--along which, within some few minutes of time, the bodies of
many of them were dragged by iron hooks fixed in their flesh to
certain vaults, where they lay till it was convenient to be rid of
them.

That struck me--the contrast between the living men, splendid lusty
animals, the muscles swelling on their limbs, the fire of fight in
their keen eyes, the harness clanking as they walked, and the limp,
gashed, senseless corpses which presently the slaves dragged thence to
the last oblivion. Between the one and the other was but the thickness
of a single plank. One wonders if they understood, if they foresaw.
Perhaps, probably not, for if so they would have been unmanned, their
steel nerves must have turned to water, they would not have given
satisfaction to their patrons. No, as it is with us to-day, doubtless
each of them hoped and believed that he would be the victor. That he
would stand over the conquered enemy of the combat, who perhaps for
years had been his own companion, watching, while eighty thousand
voices roared their plaudits, for the movement of the Vestals' thumbs.
Watching--for this hour--from above, not from below.

Then the catacombs. Who that has imagination and a heart can fail to
be moved by these? The smell of that hot damp air clings long about
the nostrils; I do not think that I shall ever be quite free of it.
Those narrow, tortuous passages, whole furlongs of them, and on either
side rising tier above tier, the /loculi/ containing each a body, or
what is left of it, of some early professor of our faith shut in
behind three or four rough tiles. On some there is a symbol, on some
an epitaph daubed in various-coloured paint, on some a name. I noted
one particularly--/Flora/. Who was the girl Flora, I wonder, and what
part did she play in that huge and blessed tragedy, what humble, quite
forgotten part? What a life also must these poor innocents have led
who crowded into those darksome burrows, to worship while they lived
and to sleep when life had left them, often enough by the fangs of a
wild beast, the sword of the gladiator, or the torment of the tarred
skin and the slowly burning fire. Truly these were faithful unto
death, and as we are taught and hope their reward is not lacking.
Think of the scene in the catacombs of San Sebastian. It was, I
believe, during the persecution of Diocletian that a vast mob of them
were shut up here, men, women, and little children, to starve in the
sweltering heat. They still show the staircase where at length the
legionaries came down. The rest can be guessed. "Thy slaughtered
saints, O Lord!"

A tile of one of these /loculi/ was loose. I moved it surreptitiously,
and thrusting my taper to the hollow, looked in. There was the
Christian as he had been entombed, or rather his bones, sunk in a soft
grey dust, the skull turned upon one side as a living person lays his
head upon a pillow. Set with cement, as is very common, so that every
passer-by could see, was a little glass vessel stained at the bottom
with red pigment. This, said our guide, showed that it must be the
grave of a martyr--the pigment was his blood. Traditions cling long
but this is not so, it is but the sediment of the sacramental wine
partaken of at the funeral. Yet martyrs are enough and to spare in
these places. God alone knows to-day which of them died by the common
sword death lifts against our race, which by the monstrous,
fratricidal hand of man. Also, it no longer matters now that the
slayers and the slain are at one, and judgment alone is left.

I will mention one thing more out of the multitudes that I studied and
one only, and then farewell to Rome. In the sculpture galleries of the
Vatican is a beautiful effigy of a woman seated in a kind of low
nursing chair and suckling an infant at her breast. We were told that
the model for this statue was Agrippina personifying motherhood, and
the innocent-eyed baby at her breast became known to the world as
Nero, the matricide. Even to-day, after all these centuries, what a
hell's jest is this piece of carven stone.

At Naples the evil weather still pursued us. When we woke up on the
morning after our arrival, the rain was falling in a steady torrent
and thus it fell till night. Also the hotel was bitterly cold, and
colder still was the Museum where we spent the day wrapped about with
many cloaks. Yet it was a happy day although I coughed and shivered
through its dark hours, for never before, as I think, have I seen so
many beautiful things in one place.

Truly, since in any case their inhabitants would be long dead by now,
we should be grateful to Vesuvius which buried up Herculaneum and
Pompeii with all their wonderful treasures of art. The dwellers in
those cities were in many ways uncivilised enough. For instance the
system of house-drainage, as I myself observed at Pompeii, was of a
most primitive and poisonous nature, consisting apparently of a
cesspool under the floor of the sitting-room. Again their monstrous
and open licentiousness, of which the walls and buildings bear such
unmistakable evidence, their gladiatorial shows and other of their
customs, are scarcely what we should associate with civilisation as it
is understood by us. In this connection, however, it must be
remembered that behind the very thinnest veil of decent seeming, in
almost every one of these respects Naples is as bad to-day as was
Pompeii in the year of our Lord 79.

Yet what artists were these Pompeians. All the talent of the world in
our generation could not produce such statues and bronzes as have been
found beneath the lava of Herculaneum and the ashes of Pompeii.
Therefore it would seem that high civilisation does not favour the
production of the finest art. On the other hand, neither does
savagery. Nor can its appearances upon the earth as in the best Greek
period, the very early Egyptian period, the period under discussion
and that of the Renaissance, be accounted for as in the instance of
the uprising of great writers such as Homer, Shakespeare, and others,
in the occasional touching of the high-water mark of human intellect
by a wave of individual genius. For at such epochs genius seems to
have been a common gift. It fell like a sudden rain upon the heads of
all. Then like the rain it ceased, to be followed by a long period of
ineffective undewed sterility. The problem is too high for me, I
abandon it.

Naples, in a domestic sense, is pre-eminently remarkable for two
things, its beggars, and its method of driving horses by means of a
band across the nose in place of the common bit. I have never
elsewhere seen this habit of harnessing. As for the beggars, so far as
the traveller is concerned, they include practically the entire
population. Against him every man uplifts his hand, or rather he
stretches it out. The right carriage fare for a /course/, that is,
from any one point to another in the town, is 75 centimes; yet we saw
ten francs extracted from a wretched American who still was followed
with complaints and voluble abuse. One morning I sat at breakfast
behind a massive window of plate glass which did not open. Nor was
there any access to the street beyond under quite a moderate walk. Yet
during the whole of that meal a sturdy youth stood without and begged
of me. He knew that even if I was so minded I could not communicate to
him the desired coin, because between us there was a great pane fixed,
in short, that his was but labour wasted. And yet he begged, his
nature prompting to the act. There sat an Englishman, and he must
practise his trade if only in empty, unsatisfying pantomime. In Naples
every one expects a fee, generally for doing nothing, and no one is
satisfied with it when received. Perhaps the cabmen, some of whom are
blackmailers and scoundrels of peculiar villainy, take the palm for
impudent extortion. Or should it be given to the boatmen? Of them I
anticipate to tell a story.

When we reached Naples on our return from Syria my nephew went ashore
to see a tradesman about some statuettes which we had purchased on our
first visit, that did not appear to have reached their destinations.
This he did against my advice, for the vessel was only staying two
hours and the man lived near the Museum. The two hours passed, the
last tug came off, eight o'clock was striking. One officer after
another asked me if my nephew was on board. I said that I could not
see or hear him, and at last the captain announced firmly but
regretfully that he had business at Marseilles and must be going. I
shrugged my shoulders but inwardly I was anxious, as Naples is not a
place for a young man to be left stranded without money, of which I
knew he had little in his pocket. Also he wore my only ulster and I
had lent him an umbrella! The time came to hoist the gangway and I
gave him up. Just then through the gloom at a little distance from the
ship I caught sight of my ulster struggling violently, and of my
umbrella waving in the air. Now followed an indescribable hubbub. The
figure of the lost one, with a Neapolitan hanging on to his leg,
struggled from one boat into another boat whence, with a well-planted
kick, he neatly floored the Neapolitan and, breathless but triumphant,
reached the companion and the deck.

His tale was moving. It appears that he had been detained at the
art-dealer's shop, and that the cabman who drove him to the quay,
either by accident or very possibly on purpose, for one can never be
quite certain of the designs of these men, took him a long way round.
By the time he reached the embarking-place and had finished the usual
altercation over his fare, the tug had gone, leaving him with
something under fifteen minutes to reach the /Oroya/, which lay a mile
or more away. Somehow, after being nearly torn to pieces, he made a
bargain and got a boat, only to discover that his oarsmen either could
not, or would not row at a speed needful in the situation. He coached
them in the best Cambridge style, and when that proved ineffective,
threatened by expressive pantomime to cast the elder of the two men
into the deep, for the bellowing of the siren and the ringing of the
bell on board the distant /Oroya/ were sounds full of meaning to his
ears.

Thus encouraged the rowers put on the pace and arrived at length
within fifty yards of the steamer, whose donkey engines were now
beginning to clank upon the anchor chains. But there they stopped and
opened negotiations for blackmail. Whether he would have ever got on
board the ship, or now be at the bottom of Naples Bay, or the hero of
some other unpleasant predicament, had not an accident chanced, I know
not. The accident was that while the altercation and mutual threats
proceeded the boat drifted against another boat, into which, with
commendable agility, he sprang, as I have described, the Italian
hanging to his leg. Thence he gained the tug and from it the steamer.

The officers of the ship told me that these incidents are common at
Naples. There it is quite customary for boatmen to bring off wretched
passengers just before their vessel sails, and refuse to put them on
board until they receive some exorbitant ransom. In Cyprus the
traveller has no need of any defensive weapon; in most parts of
Palestine he is not likely to regret its absence; but in Naples, for
my part, I should in future always carry a pistol to show if
necessary.

How blessed is the sun after long periods of cold and wet, especially
in those lands where one expects sun and artificial heat is not
embraced. The night before we visited Pompeii, for instance, was not a
happy one for me. I was actually frozen out of the hotel smoking-room
with its glass roof and a toy stove which did not burn. By way of
consolation I manufactured myself some hot whisky and water with the
help of a dreadful Etna that would not blow out, boiled over and took
the vanish off the table (damage five francs at least, if it was
discovered). Then I crept to bed and to such sleep as an incessant
influenza cough would allow. It was not much, but towards morning I
began to enjoy nightmares. One I remember particularly; it was to
demonstrate on paper one hundred different methods of folding an
india-rubber bath in five seconds of time, and fifty different methods
of emptying the same without spilling a drop, under pain of being
thrown living from the top of the Bargello tower in Florence. Another
pleasing dream was that I was actually very ill in a dreadful hotel
with no one to attend upon me except Italian waiters, who always
demanded five francs before they would give you anything to drink, or
ten if you were particularly thirsty. At length I woke up stiff and
aching, and there, streaming through the window, was the sun, at
last--the bright Italian sun of many a romance. I could have
worshipped it.

To what the books on the subject, and their name is legion, say about
Pompeii I shall attempt to add nothing. For many years I desired to
see this place, and when I saw it, it did not disappoint me. It is
wonderful. The houses as they were, only without their roofs--very
small houses for the most part. The narrow streets down which in times
of storm the water ran, with the raised stepping-stones across them.
The wear of the chariot wheels upon the paving, of the children's feet
at the doors of school-houses, of the merchants' feet at the entrances
of shops and places of business, of the priests' feet upon the
thresholds of temples. The scribblings of gladiators and even of
Christian slaves upon the walls. The obscene pictures and places. The
fountains in the middle of the way with holes hollowed in their solid
stone by the pressure of the hands of those who for six or seven
centuries had leant down to refresh themselves with their waters. The
casts enclosing the actual skeletons of some of the poor creatures who
were overtaken in the last catastrophe. The garden-courts still
adorned with statues. All these and a hundred other things were
wonderful.

But how should a man see them? From place to place he walks at the
heels of an attentive guide who is full of information till he grows
bewildered. Here are temples, here are baths, here a theatre, a forum,
a wall, a circus, a private house with the statues still standing
about the court, an abode not to be described, a baker's, a
silver-smith's, an artist's shop, what not? All the wreckage of a
city, none of the finest or most large, it is true, suddenly
obliterated in the midst of its active life, a clock that has stopped,
the case decayed but the works laid bare, /sui generis/--alone in the
relics of the universe. It is overwhelming, to study it in detail
would take weeks, and even then who would be very much the wiser?

No, I think it is best to slip away alone as I did, and seated upon
some stone or wall in the soft shine of the sunlight, to let the
general scene and the unique atmosphere that surrounds it, sink into
the imagination. Then where no tourist disturbs, where no /cicerone/
explains, the mind may strive to re-create. Its ears may hear the hum
of voices in the populous pleasure-seeking town, its eyes may see the
lost thousands in their strange attire crowding down the cramped ways,
till at length something of the meaning and the pathos of it all will
come home.

Yet why should this place move us so much? There are scores of dead
cities strewn about the world, only more stripped by decay and man. I
suppose it is because of the feebleness of our fancy, that cripple who
finds it so hard to stir from the little plot of time upon which it is
our chance to wander. Here it has crutches, here the evidences of the
departed are plentiful. We see the bread that they baked, the trinkets
which they purchased. The pleasures they pursued so fiercely, the sins
that were their joy, the higher aspiration that touched them at times,
the superstitions before which they cowered, are written of on every
ruined stone. Therefore, thus aided by these helpful props of evidence
they draw near to us and we to them.

Vesuvius towering there, Vesuvius which saw it all and so much before
from the very beginnings of the world, and will see so much hereafter
till the end of the world, ought to stir us more, but it does not. It
is a wondrous, an awe-inspiring phenomenon of Nature, no more,
something above her human sympathy. But the stone hollowed by the
hands of the dead, ah! that stirs. We think that if we had lived then
our palms would have helped to wear the edge of the solid
water-trough, and comprehend, and are sorry. By the sign of this sharp
example we remember that we too are making our faint marks upon such
stones as we are fated to tread and handle. Other more imperceptible
marks also upon things intangible and yet real which generations to
come will look on with dull incomprehensive eyes, and though they know
it not, in their own souls gather up the harvest. This knowledge makes
us sympathetic, or at least I think so.

In Naples men learned in the English tongue write works on Pompeii (to
them a mine of wealth) for the benefit of the traveller. One of these
we purchased for half a franc at the railway station. It is infinitely
more entertaining than most guide-books. Here are a few extracts:--

First of all our author is historical, and tells us "it is mentioned
by Pliny: a M. Erinnius, duumvir, a Pompean who was thundered at
Pompeii." One wonders whether by this the author means that the
duumvir was applauded at a theatre, or that he came in sudden and
unexpected contact with the electric current. If so, his fate was
scarcely so bad as that of Drusus, son of Claudius.

"He was in Pompeii and took his pleasure to throw some pears in the
air and then received them in his mouth, when one of those fruits
strangled him, stopping up his throat."

What an occupation for the son of an emperor who had apparently but
just become engaged, and what size can his mouth have been! Further on
our author, who by the way is too modest to record his name, describes
some of the corpses found in the ashes. Here, for instance, are Nos.
39 and 40:--

"39. A young woman fallen upon her face, her head is leaned upon her
arm, the coat or shift which she was covered of was brought near her
head in the act of defense or fright, and causes all her beautiful
naked body to be seen. Her shoulder has some trace of dress. It is
still seen a lock of hair tied on her occiput.

"40. A young woman having a ring to her finger, to her foot a buskin.
Her leg is admirable."

Will some scholar kindly place the god or goddess described thus
darkly as "another womanish divinity of an uncertain determination"?
Perhaps the fact that Neptune "on foot" is said to be leaning upon her
shoulder may assist the student.

I will pass over the account of "a xystus" adorned with porticoes
which protect it from the "ardours of the sun," although curiously
enough "in one of the columns is the augury that was made to a girl
that she may sneeze, that is pleasingly." After this no wonder that
many find the customs and manners of the ancients curious and hard to
understand. But to proceed. Here is an extract in a style which may be
commended to the notice of art critics. It has all the necessary
obscurity and can scarcely fail to impress the unlearned. A bronze is
under discussion. Our book describes it thus:--

"The counterpoise represents a nice womanish bust with a covering on
its head, under which are ivy leaves; she has her hair curled on her
deck. She leans softly on her cheek the index of her right hand, of
which the pulse is adorned with a bracelet, and she turns her head on
the right. A lamp and a beak; Jupiter, radiated on a disc, leaning on
the sceptre and sitting between Minerva, armed with a lame, and the
Abundance, with the cornucopea, both seated."

If it involves nothing incorrect, I confess that I should much like to
learn what portion of the lady's frame is referred to as "her deck."

There is, however, information as well as amusement in these pages.
Thus they call attention to a /graffito/ scribbled on the wall of the
theatre which announces that a certain Methe, a player of farce,
"/amat Chrestum corde sit utreisque/"--loves Christ from the heart,
and prays that a like fate may befall others. So within two
generations of His death the Saviour had followers in heathen Pompeii
even among actors.

Here is another curious inscription conceived in a very different
spirit, and scratched upon the wall of the house of a certain Cecilius
Jucundus: "/Quis amat valeat. Pereat qui nescit amare. Bis tanto
pereat, quisquis amare vetat/," which I may render, "May the lover
flourish! Bad luck to him who turns his back on love! But to him who
bars the lover's path--damnation!"

Jucundus was a banker. It is not difficult to imagine that this
vigorous screed was inscribed upon the wall by some poor aspirant for
his daughter's hand, to whom he had shown the door.

The old tradition was that Pompeii perished during the summer months.
As our guide-book points out, however, this theory is entirely refuted
by one curious little circumstance. Near the Stabian Gate in December
1889 were discovered some human bodies and a tree, which in the words
of the book "was poured there, as one habitually is used to do the
liquid chalk," so that "besides the impress of its thick past remained
as engraved on the ashes" the remains of the leaves and of the
berries.

From the cast obtained thus obscurely (which we saw) botanists were
enabled to identify the tree with its leaves and fruit as a variety of
/lauris nobilis/, whereof the berries do not ripen until late autumn.
As these particular berries were quite ripe when the ashes covered
them, Pompeii, it is clear, must have perished in the winter months.

I will confess that I leave this place with a deep professional grudge
against that admirable romancer, the late Lord Lytton. Who is there of
our trade that would not like to write a novel about Pompeii? But
Lytton bars the way. Not that it would be difficult to find another
and quite different plot. It is his title which presages failure to
all who would follow in his path. He had called his book "Glaucus," or
"The Blind Girl," or "A Judgment from Heaven," or anything else it
would not have mattered. But every one has heard of the novel named
"The Last Days of Pompeii," and he who tried to treat of that city and
event with the pen of fiction would certainly hear of it also. It is
even possible that he might become involved in correspondence on the
hoary theme of literary plagiarism.



                              CHAPTER V

                          NAPLES TO LARNACA

The morning of our departure from Naples came, and we departed, this
time very early. Long before "the saffron-tinted dawn," as I remember
when a boy at school I used to translate the Homeric phrase, had
touched the red pillar of smoke above Vesuvius, I was up and doing my
experienced best to arouse my companion, by arranging the electric
lights in such an artistic fashion that their unveiled and
concentrated rays struck full upon his "slumber-curtained eyes." But
he is an excellent sleeper, and the effort was a failure. Therefore
stronger measures had to be found.

At length we were off, the extreme earliness of the hour saving me
something considerable in the matter of hotel tips. By the time we
reached the station, however, every Italian connected with the place
was wide-awake and quite ready to receive the largesse of the noble
foreigner. I think that I had to fee about ten men at that station, at
least eight of them for doing nothing. Gratuities were dispensed to
the bus-conductor who introduced us to a porter; to the porter who led
us three yards to the ticket office; to an official who inspected the
tickets after we had taken them; to two other officials who showed us
respectively the platform from which the train for Brindisi started
and the place where the luggage must be booked; to a superior person
who announced that he would see the luggage properly booked, and to
various other inferior persons, each of whom prepared to carry some
small article to the platform. Then being called upon suddenly to
decide, and very much afraid that the said small articles would vanish
in transit, I determined upon the spur of the moment to accompany them
to the carriage, leaving my nephew to attend to the registration of
the heavier baggage.

Even in that crowded tumultuous moment I had, it is true, my doubts of
the wisdom of this arrangement, but remembering that on the last
occasion when he performed this important office, the intelligent
booking-clerk had managed to relieve my companion of half a napoleon,
by the simple process of giving change to the amount of twenty
centimes instead of ten francs twenty centimes, I was sure that
experience would have made him very, very cautious. Presently he
arrived radiant, having accomplished all decently and in order at the
moderate expense of another few francs of tips.

"Have you got the luggage-ticket?" I asked with sombre suspicion.

"Rather," he answered; "do you suppose that I am green enough to come
without it?" and he showed me the outside of a dirty piece of paper.
The outside, remember, not the inside, for thereby hangs a very
painful, moving tale.

Well, we started, this time in great comfort, since, except for an
Italian sportsman arrayed in quaint attire, we had the carriage to
ourselves. We steamed past Pompeii and Sorrento, thence for hours
climbing over huge mountain ranges covered with snow, sometimes almost
to the level of the railway line. After these came vast stretches of
plain. Then in the afternoon we travelled for many miles along the
seashore, a very lonely strand fringed with pines blown by the
prevalent winds to curious, horizontal shapes, as though a gardener
had trimmed them thus for years. Ultimately once more we headed inland
across the foot of Italy, and at last, after a journey of about
thirteen hours, to my great relief, for I feared lest another train
off the line might make us lose our boat, ran into Brindisi.

Here to our joy the local Cook was in attendance, who put us into a
cab, strictly charging us to "pay nothing to nobody." He announced
further that he would follow presently to the mail steamer /Isis/ with
the heavy baggage, for which he took the ticket.

We reached the /Isis/, a narrow, rakish-looking boat, found our cabin,
and began to arrange things. While we were getting rid of the dust of
our long journey I heard a voice outside, the voice of Cook, though
strangely changed and agitated.

"Mr. Haggard," said the voice, "Mr. Rider Haggard."

"Yes," I answered; "what's the matter? I've paid for the passages at
the office."

"It isn't the passages, it's your luggage," he replied through the
door; "it's gone!"

I sank upon my berth. "Gone?" I said feebly, "gone where?"

"To Reggio," replied the mournful voice, "Reggio on the other side of
Italy, where you booked it to."

"It was booked to Brindisi," I shouted.

"Oh no, it wasn't," wailed the voice, "it was booked to Reggio; here's
the ticket."

"Do you hear that?" I said to my nephew, who, with his dripping head
lifted from the basin, was staring at vacancy as though he had seen a
ghost; "do you hear that? He says you booked the luggage to Reggio."

"I didn't," he gasped; "I gave them the tickets for Brindisi."

A horrible thought struck me. "Did you examine the voucher?" I asked.

Then almost with tears he confessed that he had overlooked this
formality.

"My friend," I went on, "do you understand what you have done? Has it
occurred to you that this exceedingly thick and uncomfortable brown
suit, with three flannel shirts, a leather medicine-case, and some
wraps and sundries are all that we possess to travel with to Cyprus,
where such is the hospitable nature of the inhabitants, we shall
probably be asked out to dinner every night?"

"We've got some cigarettes and a revolver, and you can have my
dinner-jacket, it is in the little bag," he answered with feeble
inconsequence.

I took the dinner-jacket at once; it was several sizes too small for
me, but better than nothing. Then I expressed my feelings in language
as temperate as I could command. Considering the circumstances it was,
I think, wonderfully temperate.

At this juncture the voice of the patient (and most excellent)
representative of the world-wide majesty of Cook spoke as though in
reverie through the door.

"It is a strange thing," he said, "these sad accidents always happen
to you gentlemen with double names. The last time it was to the great
artist gentleman--how did he call himself? Ah! I have it.
Mr.--Mr.--Melton Prior. He went on with nothing, quite nothing. His
luggage too travelled to Reggio."

Enough. Let oblivion take that dreadful hour. But the odd thing is
that this is the second time in my life that the said "sad accident"
has happened to me. Once before, bound to the East, did I arrive upon
the mail-steamer at Brindisi only to find that by some petty caprice
of the Italian railway officials my portmanteaus were at Milan, or
elsewhere, and that I must travel to Egypt and sojourn there in what I
stood up in, /plus/ the contents of a hand-bag. I remember that on
this occasion my sufferings were somewhat soothed by the melancholy
state of an Australian family, who found themselves doomed to voyage
to Sydney with an outfit that would not have cut up into an infant's
layette. Their luggage also had gone to Reggio.

As a matter of curiosity I should like to know why the Italians play
these tricks with the belongings of travellers, as is their common and
undoubted habit. To take the present case, it is true that my nephew
neglected to study the scrawl upon the voucher, but really he was not
to blame, for he gave the clerk the tickets for Brindisi, by which
that functionary was bound to register the luggage. Moreover, every
official in the station knew that we were going to Brindisi--a fact
upon the strength of which many of them, under this pretext or that,
had managed to extract something from my pocket. Yet quite calmly,
although there was no press of business for we were almost the only
passengers, they sent the luggage to Reggio. My own belief is that
sometimes this kind of thing is done as a bad practical joke, or
possibly to annoy the foreigner within their gates, and sometimes for
the purposes of pillage. If this be so, the effort is eminently
successful, especially when the unfortunate victim has to catch a mail
for the East and must leave his effects to take their chance.

The /Isis/ is one of the swift boats which carry the mail from
Brindisi to Port Said. The bags leave London at nine on Friday night.
By seven or eight on Sunday night they should be at Brindisi, and by
Wednesday night or Thursday morning at Port Said, where the big boat
awaits them.

It is very curious to see these bags come on board. Somebody announces
that the mail is in, and an officer takes his station opposite the
gangway at a little table on which lies a great lined and printed
form, while another officer stands by the gangway itself.
Quartermasters and sailors also station themselves at convenient spots
between it and the mail-room. Presently there is a rumble, and a
covered van drawn by a wretched-looking horse appears in the strong
ring of electric light upon the quay. Attending it are an
extraordinary collection of ragamuffins, of whom the use now becomes
apparent. The van is unlocked by some one in charge, and the first
ragamuffin is given a sack and a tally-stick. Up the gangway he trots,
delivers the tally-stick to the quartermaster at its head, who calls
out the destination of each bag to the officer at the table, who in
his turn checks and enters it upon the sheet. That carrier trots away
to the right towards the mail-room, where he delivers his bag and
descends by a second gangway to the quay for another.

Meanwhile his companions are following him like a stream of ants, each
with a sack of letters on his shoulder and a tally-stick in his hand.
When the tally-sticks come to the number of ten, they are placed in
the section of a box that stands on the deck at the feet of the
quartermaster. A hundred tally-sticks exactly fill this box, which is
then replaced by another empty box. Thus an additional check is kept
upon the number of the bags.

Now that van is empty and another arrives, and so on and on for hours,
till at last all the mail is safely aboard, checked, and sorted. I
believe that on this particular Sunday night the count amounted to
something over two thousand bags, which is not very heavy. One of the
officers told me that the letters, &c., in which Great Britain sent
her last Christmas wishes to the East filled nearly four thousand
bags. As may be imagined, the introduction of the penny Imperial post
is not likely to lessen these totals.

Before the mail was all on board we were fast asleep, waking up the
next morning to find the /Isis/ tearing at about eighteen knots (she
can run twenty-three) through a stormy sea and beneath a wet and
sunless sky. By midday our course was taking us through the beautiful
islands of the Greek Archipelago, to some of which we passed quite
close. Here it was that we found most reason to mourn the lack of
sunlight, which in this dripping weather caused even those green
Ionian slopes to look cold and grey. Amongst other places we saw that
Leucadian crag whence the Greek poetess Sappho leapt into the sea.
Studying the spot I came to the conclusion that her nerve must have
been almost as remarkable as her genius. Women very rarely commit
suicide by jumping off a great height, especially into water. By the
way, I wonder if Sappho was as beautiful as the bust in the Naples
Museum, that was discovered at Pompeii or Herculaneum, I forget which,
seems to suggest. Tradition describes her as small and dark, so
perhaps the head is a fancy portrait by some great artist of a later
age. So real and so full of life and intelligence is it, however, that
whoever was its model must have been both a lovely and a clever woman.
Indeed, genius seems to sit upon that brow of bronze and to look from
those wide enamelled eyes.

Leaving Brindisi late on Sunday night, early on the Wednesday morning
we sighted the low shores of Egypt. By eight we were steaming past the
well-remembered breakwater at Port Said, very empty now on account of
the war and the coal famine, and in another half-hour had cast anchor
alongside the great liner which was ready to receive our mails.

Once I spent three or four days in Port Said waiting for my steamer,
and may claim, therefore, to know it fairly well. Of all the places I
have visited during many travels I can recall but one that strikes me
as more dreary. It is a fever-stricken hole named Frontera at the
mouth of the Usumacinto River in Tabasco, that can boast the largest
and fiercest mosquitoes in the whole world.

However on this occasion we were destined to see but little of Port
Said, since the vessel that was to take us on to Cyprus, named the
/Flora/, would sail as soon as we had transhipped her mails.
Accordingly, bidding farewell to the /Isis/ and her kind commander, we
took a boat and rowed across to the /Flora/, a small and ugly-looking
vessel painted black, and belonging to the Austrian-Lloyd. On board of
her I found no one who could speak any tongue I knew, and it was with
some difficulty that at last, by the help of the steward's assistant,
who understood a little French, I was able to explain that we wished
to proceed to Larnaca.

At the time it struck me as so odd that the English Government mails
should be carried in a vessel thus distinctly foreign, that afterwards
in Cyprus I inquired into the reason. It seems that the Colonial
Office, or rather the Treasury, are responsible. The Austrian-Lloyd
line, being in the receipt of a subsidy from their Government, were
able to make a lower tender for the transport of mails than another
line, owned by a British company. So notwithstanding the manifest
inconveniences of employing an alien bottom for this important
purpose, which in certain political conditions might easily prove
dangerous, the home authorities decreed that the contract should go to
the foreigner. Perhaps they thought that the sacred principles of Free
Trade, or rather of subsidised foreign competition, ought to prevail
even in the matter of the conveyance of her Majesty's mails.

Another thing became evident, that Cyprus is not a place of popular
resort, since my nephew and I were the only first-class passengers in
the ship. Unless he be a Government official, or some friend or
connection of one of the very few British residents, it is not often,
I imagine, that the /Flora/ takes a traveller to the island. Still she
provides for them, by printing a set of rules in English and hanging
them on the companion. They cover much ground; in them even politeness
finds its place, since the reader is reminded that passengers being
"persons of education, will pay a due regard to the fair sex."
Reflection, however, seems to have suggested that this axiom might
meet with too liberal a rendering. At any rate, farther down we are
informed with grave sincerity that "gentlemen are not allowed to enter
the cabins of the ladies."

After the dull weather we had experienced between Italy and Egypt, the
twenty-four hours' run of our lonely voyage to Larnaca was very
pleasant, for the sun shone brightly, the wind did not blow, and the
sea was blue as only the Mediterranean in its best moods knows how to
be. When we got up next morning--we were provided, each of us, with a
whole four-berth cabin, but the /Flora/ does not boast a bath--it was
to find that Cyprus was already in sight: a long, grey land with
occasional mountains appearing here and there.

Onward we steamed, watching a single white-sailed bark that slid
towards us across the azure sea like some dove on outstretched wings,
till at length we cast anchor in the roadstead off the little port of
Larnaca, a pretty town lying along the seashore. Some miles away, and
to our left as we face it, rises the mountain of the Holy Cross--I
think that it is, or used to be called Oros Staveros by the Greeks,
and by the Latins Monte Croce, at any rate in the time of Pocock.

Felix Fabri, the German monk who made two pilgrimages to Palestine in
or about the year 1480, tells how he visited this monastery and saw
its relics. It will be remembered that St. Helena, the mother of
Constantine the Great, who when an old woman journeyed to the Holy
Land in 325 of our era, was so fortunate as to discover beneath the
alleged site of the Holy Sepulchre, the veritable cross of our Lord
together with that of one or both of the thieves who suffered with
Him. But of this more hereafter. The cross of the good thief who, why
I know not, has been named Dysma, she is said to have brought to
Cyprus and established upon this mountain. Whether anything of it
remains there now I cannot say, as I made no visit to the place either
on this occasion or on a former journey in the island some fourteen
years ago. This is what old Felix says about it. I quote here and
elsewhere from the most excellent and scholarly translation of his
writings by Mr. Aubrey Stewart, M.A., which is unfortunately
practically inaccessible to most readers, as it can only be obtained
as part of the Library of the "Palestine Pilgrims' Text Society" at a
minimum of ten guineas:--


 "She"--i.e. St. Helena--"brought her own cross, that which had been
  Dysma's, entire from Jerusalem to this mount, and here she built a
  great convent for monks, and a church within which she placed this
  cross as an exceedingly holy relic. She ordered a chamber or
  closet to be built in the wall over against the altar, and placed
  the cross within it; and there it stands unmoved even to this day,
  albeit the monastery itself has long since been overthrown, even
  to the ground, by the Turks and Saracens, and the monks of the
  Order of St. Benedict who once dwelt therein have been scattered.
  The position and arrangement of this cross in its place is
  wonderful. The cross stands in a blind window, and both its arms
  are let into holes made in the walls, and its foot is let into a
  hole made in the floor. But the holes which contain the arms of
  the cross and the foot of the cross are large out of all
  proportion, and the cross nowhere touches the wall, but is free
  and clear from contact with the wall on every side. The miracle
  which is noised abroad about the cross is that it hangs in the air
  without any fastening, and withal stands as firm as though it were
  fixed with the strongest nails or built into the wall, which
  nevertheless it is not, because all the three holes are very
  great, so that a man can put his hand into them and perceive by
  touch that there is no fastening there, nor yet at the back or at
  the head of the cross. I might indeed have searched this thing
  more narrowly than I did, but I feared God, and had no right to do
  that which I had forbidden others to do. I climbed this mount to
  show honour to the cross, not to try whether there was a miracle
  or not, or to tempt God. That this cross may be more worthy of
  reverence, they have joined to it a piece of the true Cross of
  Christ."


Felix Fabri was easily satisfied, as a mediaeval monk should be. So
much for the cross of Dysma.

Soon we were rowing ashore in the Government boat, a distance of
three-quarters of a mile or so, for Larnaca is not a harbour, but an
open roadstead--there are now no harbours worthy of the name in
Cyprus. Landing at the pier we were at once conducted to the
custom-house, and explained that we had nothing to declare.

"But have you a revolver?" asked the officer.

I answered that I had.

"Then I must trouble you to hand it over," he replied. "I will give
you a receipt for it, and you can claim it when you leave the island."

I looked what I felt, astonished, but obeyed. On inquiry it appeared
that the Cyprus Government has recently passed some legislation as to
the importation of firearms. It would seem that murders had been
somewhat frequent in the island, mostly carried out by shooting, hence
the law. Whether it was intended to prevent respectable travellers who
purpose journeying in the mountain districts from carrying a pistol
for their own protection, is another matter. Doubtless in fact it was
not; but in Cyprus they have a great respect for the letter of the
law, and therefore put this somewhat unnecessary query. For instance,
they have another regulation--aimed, I suppose, at the exclusion of
phylloxera--against the importation of seeds or plants, which has been
known to work in an unforeseen manner. Thus a year or two ago a
foreign royalty, I think it was the Prince of Naples, visited the
island wearing a carnation in his buttonhole. His Royal Highness must
have been somewhat amazed when a custom-house official leant forward
and gently but firmly removed the contraband flower.

I am told that this story is quite true, but it may be only a local
satire upon the kindly providence of a patriarchal Government.

It is right to add, however, that there is not the slightest need for
a traveller of the ordinary stamp to carry any defensive weapon in
Cyprus. Since the English occupation of the island at any rate, now
some twenty years ago, no place can be more safe. In the wildest parts
of it he who behaves himself has nothing to fear from the natives, a
kindly, gentle-hearted race, Turk or Christian, although, as I have
said, not averse to murdering each other upon occasion. But of this
also more hereafter.

Having delivered up the weapon of war and been given an elaborate
receipt for the same, we proceeded to our hotel accompanied by a
motley collection of various blood and colour, each of them bearing a
small piece of our exiguous belongings, whereof the bulk, it will be
remembered, had travelled to Reggio. These folk, however, are not
exorbitant in their demands and do not grumble or ask for more.
Tourists have not come to Cyprus to spoil it; I never heard of an
American even setting foot on the island, therefore a shilling here
goes as far as five elsewhere.

The hotel at Larnaca is now I believe the only one in Cyprus. It
stands within a few feet of the shore--safely enough, for the sea is
tideless--is comfortable, with large, cool rooms, and absurdly cheap.
I grieve to add that its proprietor cannot make it pay. No travellers
visit this lovely and most interesting isle, in ancient days the
garden of the whole Mediterranean, therefore there are no hotels. Once
there was one at Limasol, but it failed and converted itself into a
hospital. He who would journey here must either rely upon tents, which
are a poor shelter before the month of April, or upon the kind and
freely offered hospitality of the Government officials. Naturally this
lack of accommodation frightens away tourists, which for many reasons
in a poor country like Cyprus is a vast pity. Yet until the tourist
comes it is idle to expect that conveniences for his reception will be
provided. So this matter stands.

Where Larnaca now lies was once the ancient Citium, of which the marsh
near at hand is believed to have been the harbour. Quite half of the
present town, indeed, is said to be built upon the necropolis of
Citium, whence comes its name, Larnaca, derived, it is supposed, from
/Larnax/, an urn or a sepulchre. The town is divided into two parts,
Larnaca proper and the Marina along the seashore, which is reported to
have been recovered within the last few centuries from the bed of the
ocean.

After luncheon we went to a house whose owner deals occasionally in
curiosities. Of these and all antiquities indeed the export is
forbidden except to the British Museum, private digging having been
put a stop to in the island, as its inhabitants aver, in the especial
interest of that institution. Here we saw a few nice things, but the
price asked was impossible, £12 being demanded for a set of little
glass vases which I should have valued at 40s. So we left the place,
richer only by an Egyptian or Phoenician spear-head of Cyprian copper,
a very excellent specimen, and walked to the upper town about a mile
away to take tea with Mr. Cobham, the Commissioner.

Mr. Cobham lives in a beautiful house which he has purchased. For
generations it had been the abode of the British consuls at Larnaca,
but was abandoned by them many years ago. Here in a noble room he has
his unique collection of ancient books written by travellers during
the last five or six centuries, and others dealing with, or touching
on, Cyprus and its affairs. It is from these sources that its learned
author has compiled the work known as /Excerpta Cypria/, which
consists of translations from their pages, a book invaluable to
students, but now unhappily out of print. I considered myself
fortunate in being able to purchase a set of the sheets at an advanced
price in the capital, Nicosia, where it was printed.

Set upon a wall of the saloon in this house and although newly
painted, dating from a century and a half or more ago, is a fine,
carved example of the royal arms of England. This very coat, as Mr.
Cobham has ascertained, used to stand over the doors of the old
British Consulate during the tenancy of his house by the consuls. When
they left it was taken down and vanished, but within the last few
years he found it in a stable in Larnaca, whence the carving was
rescued, repainted by some craftsmen on board an English man-of-war
which visited Cyprus, and after a hundred years or so of absence,
returned in triumph to its old home.

Cyprus is fortunate in possessing in Mr. Cobham an official who takes
so deep an interest in her history, and spares no expense or pains in
attempting its record. On the occasion of my visit he spoke to me very
sadly of the vandalism which the authorities threaten to commit by the
throwing down of the seaward wall, curtain-wall I think it is called,
of the ancient, fortified city of Famagusta, in order, principally,
that the stone and area may be made use of for the purpose of the
railway, which it is proposed to construct between Famagusta and
Nicosia. Of this suggested, but as yet happily unaccomplished crime, I
shall have something to say on a later page.



                              CHAPTER VI

                               COLOSSI

On the day following that of our arrival in Cyprus the /Flora/
reappeared from Famagusta and about noon we went on board of her to
proceed to Limasol, some forty or fifty miles away, where we were
engaged to stay a week or ten days. The traveller indeed is lucky when
he can find a chance of making this journey in the course of an
afternoon by boat, instead of spending from ten to fifteen hours to
cover it in a carriage. Although Cyprus in its total area is not much,
if any, larger than the two counties of Norfolk and Suffolk,
locomotion is still difficult owing to the impassable nature of the
ways and the steepness and frequency of the mountains. When I visited
it fourteen or fifteen years ago there were no roads to speak of in
the island, except one of a very indifferent character between Larnaca
and Nicosia. The Turks, its former masters, never seem to make a road;
they only destroy any that may exist. Now in this respect matters are
much improved. The English Government, out of the pitiful sums left at
its command after the extraction from the colony of every possible
farthing towards the payment of the Turkish tribute, has by slow
degrees constructed excellent roads between all the principal towns,
with bridges over the beds of the mountain torrents. But as yet in the
country districts nothing of the sort has been attempted.

With us were embarked a number of lambs, little things no more than a
week or two old, bought, I suppose, for the provisioning of the ship.
At this season of the year everybody in Cyprus lives upon lamb. It was
melancholy to see the tiny creatures, their legs tied together, heaped
one upon another in the bottoms of large baskets, whence, bleating
piteously for their mothers, they were handed up and thrown upon the
deck. A more satisfactory sight to my mind were one or two cane creels
half filled with beautiful brown-plumaged woodcock, shot or snared by
native sportsmen upon the mountain slopes.

On board the steamer, a fellow-passenger to Limasol, whither he was
travelling to negotiate for the land upon which to establish a
botanical garden, was Mr. Gennadius, the Director of Agriculture for
the island. He told me what I had already observed at Larnaca--that
the orange and citron trees in Cyprus, which on the occasion of my
former visit were beautiful to behold, are to-day in danger of
absolute destruction, owing to the ravages of a horrible black scale
which fouls and disfigures fruit and leaves alike. (/Avnidia coceinea/
or /Avnidia orantii/.)

For the last dozen years or so this blight has been increasingly
prevalent, the mandarin variety of fruit alone showing any power of
resisting its attacks. The proper way to treat the pest is by a number
of sprayings with a mixture of from twenty to twenty-five per cent. of
soft soap to eighty or seventy-five per cent. of warm water. A
dressing thus prepared destroys the scale by effecting a chemical
union of the alkali of the soap with the fatty matter in the organism
of the parasite, or failing this stifles it by glazing it over and
excluding the air necessary to its existence. Mr. Gennadius believes
that if this treatment could be universally adopted, scale would
disappear from Cyprus within a few years.

But here comes the difficulty. For three centuries the Cypriote has
been accustomed to Turkish rule with its great pervading principle of
/Kismet/. If it pleases Allah to destroy the orange-trees (in the case
of the Christian peasant, read God) so let it be, he says, and shrugs
his shoulders. Who am I that I should interfere with the will of
Heaven by syringing? Which being translated into Anglo-Saxon means, "I
can't be bothered to take the trouble." If the Director of Agriculture
in person or by proxy would appear three or four times a year in the
sufferer's garden with the wash ready made and a squirt and proceed to
apply it, the said sufferer would look on and smoke, making no
objection. Beyond this he will rarely go.

Therefore unless the blight tires of attack it begins to look as
though the orange is doomed in Cyprus. This is a pity, as that fruit
does very well there, and the mildew which threatened it at one time
was taken at its commencement and conquered by means of powdered
sulphur puffed about the trees with bellows, Government distributing
the sulphur at cost prices.

About three hours after leaving Larnaca the vessel passes a sloping
sward clothed with young corn and carob-trees that, backed by lofty
peaks of the Trooidos range, runs from a hill-top to the lip of the
ocean. Here once stood Amathus, a great city of immemorial antiquity
which flourished down to Roman times if not later, and ultimately, it
is said, was destroyed by an earthquake. Now all that is left of it
are acres of tumbled stone and a broken fragment of fortress, whether
ancient or mediaeval I cannot say, against the walls of which the sea
washes. It is told that here, or at some later town built upon the
same site, Richard Coeur-de-Lion landed when he took Cyprus from the
Emperor Isaac Comnenus.

Wonderful indeed is it for us, the children of this passing hour, to
look at that grey time-worn coast and as we glide by to reflect upon
the ships and men that it has seen, who from century to century came
up out of the deep sea to shape its fortunes for a while. Who were the
first? No one knows, but very early the fleets of Egypt were here.
Then followed the Phoenicians, those English of the ancient world as
they have been called, who like eagles to the carcase, gathered
themselves wherever were mines to be worked or moneys to be made. They
have left many tombs behind them and in the tombs works of art, some
of them excellent enough. Thus before me as I write stands a bronze
bull made by Phoenician hands from Cyprian copper, a well-modelled
animal full of spirit, with a tail that wags pleasingly upon a balled
joint.

After the Phoenicians, or with them perhaps, were Greeks of the
Mycenian period. Their tombs also celebrate a glory that is departed,
as the British Museum can bear witness. Next to the Greek the Persian;
then the satraps of Alexander the Great; then the Ptolemies; then
galleys that bore the Roman ensign which flew for many generations;
then the Byzantine emperors--these for seven centuries.

After this a new flag appears, the lions of England flaunting from the
ships of war of Richard the First. He took the place and sold it to
Guy de Lusignan, King of Jerusalem so called, whose descendants ruled
here for three centuries, till at length the island passed into the
hands of the Venetians. These only held it eighty years, and after
them came the most terrible fleet the Cyprian Sea has seen, that which
flew the Crescent. For three centuries Cyprus groaned and withered
under the dreadful rule of the Turk, till at last a few gentlemen
arrived in a mail-steamer and for the second time in the history of
the island ran up the flag of Britain. How long will it float there, I
wonder?

It was very interesting to watch the beautiful gulls that followed the
vessel off this coast, the wind blowing against them making not the
slightest difference to the perfect ease of their motion. So near did
they hang that I could see their quick, beady eyes glancing here and
there, and the strong bills of a light pink hue. From time to time as
I watched, one of them would catch sight of something eatable in the
water. Then down he went and suddenly from the feathers of his
underpart out shot his claws, also pink-coloured, just as though he
were settling upon a tree or rock. Why, I wonder, does a gull do this
when about to meet the water? To break his fall perhaps. At least I
can suggest no other reason, unless in the dim past his progenitors
were wont to settle upon trees and he is still unable to shake off an
hereditary habit.

At length on the low mountain-hedged coast-line appeared the white
houses, minarets and scattered palms of Limasol, with its jetty
stretching out into the blue waters. The town looked somewhat grown,
otherwise its aspect seems much the same as when first I saw it many
years ago.

So we landed, and after more custom-house formalities, marched through
the crowded streets of the little town, preceded by stalwart Cypriotes
bearing our belongings, to dine (in borrowed garments) with the kind
friends who were awaiting us upon the pier.

Our first occupation on the following morning was to retain the
services of three mules and their coal-black muleteer, doubtless the
offspring of slaves imported in the Turkish days, known to us
thenceforth by a corruption of his native name or designation which we
crystallised into "Cabbages." For a sum of about thirty shillings a
week this excellent and intelligent person placed himself and his
animals at our disposal, to go whither we would and when we would.

Our first expedition was to a massive tower, or rather keep, called
Colossi, which stands at a distance of about six miles from Limasol,
in the midst of very fertile fields upon the Paphos road. Off we went,
my nephew and myself riding our hired mules and the rest of the party
upon their smart ponies, which in Cyprus are very good and cheap to
buy and feed.

I have now had considerable experience of the mule as an animal to
ride, and I confess that I hate him. He has advantages no doubt. Over
rough ground in the course of an eight or ten hours' day he will cover
as great a distance as a horse, and in the course of a week or less he
will wear most horses down. Also he will live somehow where the horse
would starve. But what a brute he is! To begin with, his fore-quarters
are invariably weak, and feel weaker than they are. The Cypriote knows
this and rides him on a native saddle, a kind of thick padded quilt so
cruppered that he is able to sit far back, almost on the animal's tail
indeed, as, doubtless for the same reason, the costermonger rides a
donkey. To the stranger, until he grows accustomed to it, this saddle
is most uncomfortable, but old residents in the island generally
prefer to use it upon a long journey. Also it is dangerous to the
uninitiated, since the stirrups are very short. Not being fixed they
slide from side to side suddenly lengthening themselves, let us say to
the right, with any unguarded movement, which will produce a
proportionate curtailment on the left and the unexpected consequence
that the traveller finds himself face downwards on the ground. With a
European saddle this particular accident cannot happen, also it is
more comfortable for a short journey. As a set-off to this advantage,
however, the rider's weight comes upon that portion of his steed which
is least able to support it, namely the withers. The result is that
the mule, especially if pushed out of its customary amble, sometimes
falls as though it were shot, propelling him over its head.

It is a mistake to suppose, also, that these creatures are always
sure-footed; many of them stumble abominably, although they do not
often actually fall. Never shall I forget my first mule-ride in Cyprus
in the days when there were no roads. It was from Nicosia to Kyrenia,
a distance of about sixteen miles over a mountain path. The muleteer
into whose charge I was given was a huge man weighing at least
eighteen stone, and I thought to myself that where this monster could
go, certainly I could follow.

In this I was right, I did follow, but at a very considerable
distance. Mr. Muleteer perched himself upon his animal, doubtless one
of the best in the island, looking in his long robes for all the world
like a gigantic and half-filled sack, and off we ambled. Scarcely were
we clear of the town when my mule, unaccustomed, I suppose, to the
weight upon his withers and the European saddle, began to stumble. I
do not exaggerate when I say that he stumbled all the way to Kyrenia,
keeping me absolutely damp with apprehension of sudden dives on to my
head down precipitous and unpleasant places. Meanwhile Mr. Muleteer,
very possibly anticipating my difficulties, had been careful to place
about five hundred yards between us, a distance which he maintained
throughout the journey. I yelled for assistance--in fact I wished to
persuade him to exchange mules--but either he would not or he could
not hear; moreover he had no knowledge of my tongue, or I of his. So
we accomplished that very disagreeable journey.

Once, however, I made one much more dangerous, this time over the
rarely travelled mountains of Chiapas in Mexico. My companions, I
remember, had excellent mules--they lived in the country; that given
to me as the lighter weight was weak and poor, with no fore-legs worth
mentioning. We scrambled up the mountains somehow, but when it came to
descending, the fun began. A road in Tabasco, then at any rate, was
made of three component parts. First, a deep and precipitous ditch
worn out by the feet of generations of animals, covered at the bottom
with from six inches to a foot of red butter, or clay quite as greasy
as butter, down which one slowly slithered. Secondly, stretches,
sometimes miles in length, of swamp land where the path consists of
little ridges of hard clay about two feet apart, the space between
each ridge into which the mule must step, filled with some three feet
of liquid and tenacious mud that often reached to the saddle-flap.
Thirdly, when the swamps were passed great tracts of the most grizzly
precipices, which to my taste were worst of all. Along these steeps
the path, never more than three to five feet in width, would run
across boulder-strewn and sloping rock very slippery in nature. Below
yawned chasms more or less sheer, of anything from two to fifteen
hundred feet in depth.

Now a mule always chooses the extreme edge of a precipice. For this
reason: its load is commonly bound on in large, far-protruding bales
or bags. Were it therefore to walk on the inner side of the path, it
would constantly strike its burden against the cliff, so, not being
troubled with nerves, it clings to the outer edge. A common result is
that in going round a corner it meets another mule proceeding from the
opposite direction. Thereon in the attempt to struggle past one of the
pair vanishes into space and with it the load, merchandise or man.

On this particular Mexican journey I very nearly came to a sudden and
untimely end. The mule will not go your way, he always goes his own.
At one point on the precipice path it forked, the lower fork being
rough but safe and solid, the upper, which travelled round some twenty
yards and then again joined the lower, smooth but exceedingly greasy.
The mule insisted upon taking the top road, with the result that when
we reached its apex he began to slide. Down we shot, ten or fifteen
paces to the very edge of that awful cliff and, I confess it without
shame, I have rarely been in such a fright in my life. Indeed I
thought that I must be gone, there seemed no help for it, since to
dismount was quite impossible. At the utter verge of the gulf,
however, the animal put on a sort of vacuum brake of which a mule
alone has the secret, and when its head was absolutely hanging over
it, we stopped. That day also this same trusty creature fell with me
in the midst of a flooded river, and in the evening I ended an
entertaining journey by being slung across another roaring torrent
some eighty yards wide in a loop of string attached to a very rotten
rope, along which I was pulled in jerks. But of the varied experiences
of that expedition I must not stop to tell. I lived through it, so let
its memory be blessed.

Still I do not wish to asperse the mule, as upon a long journey a
really good ambler is worth untold wealth. Such as a general rule,
however, do not fall to the lot of the visitor, who has to take what
he can get at the time; as frequently as not, pack animals, which have
never carried a man before.

The mule is very cunning. I saw one in Cyprus, a noted creature which
always looks to see whether the man who purposes to ride him is or is
not wearing spurs. If he is he does not mount that day, or at least
until the spurs are off. The next thing this mule looks at is the
whip. Should it be a goad such as the natives use, he resigns himself
to circumstances; if a mere useless walking-stick, well, he will not
travel fast that trip.

One more thing about the mule; it is hopeless to try to ride him in
the company of horses. The horse has his paces of walk, trot, and the
canter, and the mule his, an amble, so that however close together
their riders may find themselves at the end of a day's journey, during
the course of it they will be widely separated.

Much of the land through which we rode to Colossi was under crops of
wheat and barley, the latter now coming into ear. The cultivation
struck me as generally very poor, but what can one expect in a country
where they merely scratch the surface of the soil, and so far as I
could see never use manure? So shallow is their ploughing that in most
cases squills and other bulbous roots are not dislodged by it, but
grow on among the corn, where, dotted about, also stand many
carob-trees, of which the fruit, a bean, is the basis of Thorley's and
other foods for cattle. On the patches of uncultivated land a great
many very beautiful anemones, the harbingers of spring, were in
flower, also large roots of asphodel with its stiff sword-shaped
leaves. This was the flower of which the Greek poets were so fond of
singing. Their wars and labours o'er, the heroes are to repose


                      "... in the shadowy field
                           Of asphodel."


In point of fact it is in my opinion an unpleasing plant, the flowers,
which spring from a tall stem, being small individually and
neutral-tinted. Also they have this peculiarity; if cut and set in a
room, they cause the place to smell as though many cats had slept
there.

A ride of about an hour brought us to Colossi. That the tower in its
present shape was built or repaired in the Lusignan time is evident
from the coats of arms--very beautifully cut--of the orders of the
Knights Templars and St. John which still appear upon the east face of
the fortress. On one of these shields, that below the other three, all
the four quarters carry a fleur-de-lys and nothing else. Another, in
the centre of the three in the upper line, immediately beneath the
crown which seems to take the place of a crest, has four crosses in
the dexter quartering, and a rampant lion on the rest. I say of the
three coats, but as a matter of fact there are only two, the third,
which has been removed, being represented by an ugly gaping hole. It
seems that some cantankerous old person who still lives in the village
had a lawsuit, which he lost, as to the ownership of this tower of
Colossi. In order to reassert his rights, however, he wrenched out one
of the coats-of-arms and took it off to his house, where it remains.
In the interest of the archaeology of the island the Government ought
to insist upon its being restored, or if necessary to replace it by
force.[*]

[*] Since the above passage was written, I hear that on the death of
    the individual spoken of, a search was made for the missing
    shield. It has vanished quite away--probably by secret
    burial!--H. R. H.

The tower itself, according to my rough pacings, is a square of about
fifty-seven feet internal measurement, and from sixty to seventy feet
in height. It is a very massive building still in fair order, although
I suppose that it has not been repaired for centuries. Now--so low are
the mighty fallen--it serves only as a grain and chaff store for the
surrounding farm. Its bottom storey, which is strongly vaulted,
evidently was used for soldiers' quarters and dungeons. Above is a
fine chamber now partitioned off, which occupies the whole square of
the castle and is adorned with a noble, vaulted fireplace stamped on
either side with a fleur-de-lys. The tradition is that Richard
Coeur-de-Lion spent his honeymoon with Berengaria in this chamber
after rescuing her /vi et armis/ from the Emperor Isaac, whom he
defeated in the plains below. There is another story which I have
heard but am unable to trace, namely that Richard in his hurry to
attack the forces of the Emperor outrode his companions, and reaching
this tower of Colossi, shook his lance and galloped about it alone
calling to Isaac, who was a poor creature and had not the slightest
wish to accept the invitation, to come out and fight him.

A narrow winding stair of the usual Norman type, whereof the ends of
the steps themselves form the central supporting column, leads to the
cement roof, which is flat, as is common in Cyprus. Hence the view is
very beautiful, for beneath lies a wide stretch of country, now
looking its best in the green garment of springing crops, while to the
right the eye is caught by a great salt lake, once a source of
considerable revenue to the island. This it might be again indeed,
were it not that with the peculiar ineptitude and want of foresight
which distinguished the agreement concluded by the Government of this
country as to the occupation of Cyprus, we have promised the Turks not
to work it in competition with other salt lakes of their own on the
mainland. Loveliest of all perhaps is the blue background of the
measureless, smiling sea, dotted here and there with white-sailed
ships.

Projecting from this roof upon one side is a curious grating of
massive stone, of which presently I guessed the use. Immediately
beneath hung the portcullis of the castle, whereof the wooden rollers
or pulleys are still to be seen. Doubtless this grating was designed
as a place of vantage whence the defenders could let fall stones or
boiling oil and water upon the heads of those who attacked the
drawbridge.

Some rich man ought to buy Colossi, sweep away the filthy
farm-buildings about it, and restore the tower to its original
grandeur. With suitable additions it would make a delightful
country-house.

Night was falling before we came home to Limasol. The last glow of
sunset still lingered on the white walls and red roofs of the
scattered houses, while above them here a feathery palm, and there a
graceful minaret stood out against the pale green sky in which the
moon shone coldly.



                             CHAPTER VII

                          A CYPRIOTE WEDDING

On Sunday we attended church in the Sergeants' room, a congregation
perhaps of twelve or fifteen people. Limasol has a chapel belonging to
it which was once used for the troops, but as it seems that the War
Office, or the Treasury, I am not sure which, lay claim to the altar
rails and benches, no service is now held there. In Cyprus as
elsewhere there is such a thing as Red Tape.

After luncheon I accompanied Mr. Michell, the Commissioner, to a grand
Greek wedding to which he had kindly procured me an invitation. On
arriving at the house we were conducted upstairs to a large central
room, out of which opened other rooms. In one of these stood the bride
dressed in white, a pretty, dark-eyed girl, to whom we were
introduced. By her, arrayed in evening clothes, was the bridegroom, a
Greek, who is registrar of the local court, and about them their
respective parents and other relatives. In the main apartment were
assembled a mixed crowd of friends, guests, and onlookers. Near its
centre stood a marble-topped table arranged as an altar with two tall
candlesticks wreathed in orange blossoms, a cup of sacramental wine,
two cakes of sacramental bread, a silver basket holding two wreaths of
orange blossom with long satin streamers attached, and a copy of the
Gospels beautifully bound in embossed silver.

Presently a procession of six priests entered the room, attired all of
them in magnificent robes of red and blue worked with silk, gold and
silver. They wore tall Eastern-looking hats very much like those
affected by Parsees and had their hair arranged in a pigtail, which in
some instances hung down their backs and in others was tucked up
beneath the head-dress. All of them were heavily bearded.

Most of these priests were striking in appearance, with faces by no
means devoid of spirituality. Indeed, studying them, it struck me that
some of the Apostles might have looked like those men. The modern idea
of the disciples of our Lord is derived in the main, perhaps, from
pictures by artists of the Renaissance school, of large-made, brawny
individuals, with wild hair and very strongly-marked countenances,
quite different from the type that is prevalent in the East to-day. It
is probable that these fanciful portraits have no trustworthy basis to
recommend them to our conviction; that in appearance indeed the chosen
twelve did not differ very wildly from such men of the more
intellectual stamp, as are now to be seen in Cyprus and Syria. But
this is a question that could be argued indefinitely, one moreover not
susceptible of proof.

Tradition, however, curiously unvarying in this instance, has assigned
to the Saviour a certain type of face which, with differences and
modifications, is not unlike that of at least two of the priests whom
I saw at this ceremony. They looked good men, intellectual men, men
who were capable of thought and work--very different, for example, in
their general aspect and atmosphere to the vast majority of those
priests whom the traveller sees in such a place as Florence. Still the
reputation of these Greek clergy is not uncommonly malodorous. Critics
say hard things of them, as the laity do of the priests in South
America. Probably all these things are not true. In every land the
clergyman is an individual set upon a pedestal at whom it is easy to
throw dirt, and when the dirt strikes it sticks, so that all the world
may see and pass by on the other side. Doubtless, however, here as
elsewhere there are backsliders, and of these, after the fashion of
the world, we hear more than of the good and quiet men who do their
duty according to their lights and opportunities and are still.

When all the preliminaries were finished the bride and bridegroom took
their places before the table-altar which I have described, and
crossed themselves ceremoniously. Then the service began. It was long
and impressive, consisting chiefly of prayers and passages of
Scripture read or chanted by the different priests in turn, several
men standing round them who were, I suppose, professionals, intoning
the responses with considerable effect. At an appointed place in the
ceremony a priest produced two rings with which he touched the
foreheads and breasts of the contracting parties, making with them the
sign of the cross. One of these rings was then put on by the
bridegroom and the other, oddly enough over her glove, by the bride.

At later periods of the service the silver-covered book of the Gospels
was given to the pair to kiss, and cotton-seed, emblematic apparently
of fertility, like our rice, was thrown on to them from an adjoining
room. Also, and this was the strangest part of the ceremony, the two
wreaths that I have described were taken from the silver basket and
set respectively upon the brow of the bridegroom and the veil, already
wreath-crowned, of the bride, where it did not sit well at all, giving
her, in fact, a somewhat bacchanalian air. The bridegroom also looked
peculiar with this floral decoration perched above his spectacles,
especially as its pendant satin tails were seized by six or eight of
his groomsmen of all ages who, with their help--the bride being
similarly escorted by her ladies--proceeded to drive the pair of them
thrice round the altar-table. Indeed this part of the service, however
deeply symbolical it may be, undoubtedly had a comic side. Another
rite was that of the kissing by the priests of the wreaths when set
upon the heads of the contracting parties, and the kissing of the
hands of the priests by the bride and bridegroom.

After these wreaths had been removed the newly-married pair partook of
the Communion in both kinds, biting thrice at the consecrated cake of
bread that was held to their mouths, and drinking (I think) three sips
of the wine. This done the elements were removed. The ceremony ended
with a solemn blessing delivered by the head priest and the embracing
of the bride and bridegroom by their respective relations. At this
point the bride wept after the fashion of ladies in her situation
throughout the world. Indeed she was moved to tears at several stages
of the service.

After it was over, in company with other guests we offered our
congratulations to the pair, drank wine to their healths and partook
of sweetmeats. Also we inspected the nuptial chamber, which was
adorned with satin pillows of a bright and beautiful blue. I am
informed, but of this matter I have no personal knowledge, that the
friends of the bride stuff her mattress with great ceremony, inserting
into it pieces of money and other articles of value. So we bade them
good-bye, and now as then I wish to both of them every excellent
fortune in life.

It struck me as curious that with so many churches close at hand this
rite should have been celebrated in a room. The last solemn ceremony
connected with the fortunes of man at which I assisted in a private
house was in Iceland amid the winter seas, far away from this southern
home of Venus. At a stead where I was staying dwelt an aged man, a
relative of the owners of the farm whom they were supporting out of
charity. There is no poor-law in Iceland so relations are legally
obliged to take its place, a state of affairs that must lead to
curious complications.

While I was in the house--a lonely place far from any other stead--the
old man died. They made him a coffin and laid him in it, and I was
invited to be present at the ceremony which followed. It consisted
chiefly of a long and most beautiful chant which, as I was told, had
come down for many generations but has never been printed. All present
in the room, perhaps a dozen people, intoned this solemn chant,
standing round the coffin where the dead man lay with the light
shining upon his snowy beard and calm majestic face. Then they prayed
and the coffin was closed. Afterwards I saw a little party of rough,
earnest men carry it over the rocks down to the head of the fiord
where a boat was waiting. There they laid it and rowed away till they
were swallowed up in the awesome loneliness of mountain, sky, and sea
which seemed to sleep beneath the blue and ghostly shadows of the
Iceland summer night.

To return to Cyprus; later in the afternoon of the wedding we went for
a ride to the military camp, about three miles from Limasol. Once
there was a regiment quartered here, but the garrison is now, I think,
reduced to a single company. It would be difficult to find a healthier
or more convenient site whereat to station soldiers, the place being
high and the water excellent. Perhaps those empty huts will be filled
again some day.

On our way back we passed through a grove of the most gigantic
olive-trees that I ever saw. Those in the Garden of Gethsemane seem
small compared to them. Having a rule in my pocket I dismounted and
took the measure of one of these. It proved to be approximately fifty
feet in circumference by sixteen in diameter at the ground, but of
course was almost hollow. How old must that tree be? Taking into
consideration the hard wood and slow-growing habits of the olive, I
imagine that in the time of the Romans, and very possibly in those of
the Ptolemies, it was already bearing fruit. Perhaps a Mycenian, or
one of Alexander's legionaries, planted it, who can say? Probably,
too, it will last for another three or four hundred years before, in
the grip of slow decay, that end overtakes it which awaits everything
earthly, not excepting the old earth herself.

One morning Mr. Mavrogordato, the Commandant of Police of the Limasol
district, to whose kindness I owe many of the photographs of scenes in
Cyprus which are reproduced in these pages, took us to see the ancient
fortress of the town, now used as its prison. The road to this castle
passes through a disused Turkish graveyard where Mr. Mavrogordato has
had the happy thought to plant trees which, in that kindly air and
soil, are now growing up into a welcome patch of greenery and shade.
This castle is a massive building in stone belonging apparently to the
Venetian period, that is, above ground, for the chapel and vaults
below are Gothic. The interior is kept most scrupulously clean and
whitewashed. Round the central well run galleries in two storeys,
which galleries are divided into cells whereof the iron gates are
secured with large and resplendent brass padlocks. I do not think that
I ever saw padlocks which shone so bright. From side to side of the
second story, stretched across the deep well beneath, is an
ugly-looking black balk of timer, and screwed into it are two bolts
and eyes of singularly uncompromising and suggestive appearance. This
is the gallows beam, so placed and arranged that the prisoners in the
cells have the advantage of a daily contemplation of the last bridge
of evil footsteps. An execution from that beam, and there have been
several, I believe, must create quite an excitement among the
wrong-doers of Limasol.

It is curious, by the way, although I daresay that the thought may
never have occurred to the reader, how singularly ugly are the
instruments of judicial death and torment. Take a rack, for instance.
Even those who had not the slightest idea of its sinister uses would
exclaim--"What a hideous thing!" I have seen a certain rack in one of
the old cities of North Holland, Alkmaar or Hoorn, I think, whereof
the mere appearance is distressing; yet it has none of the superfluous
complications of more highly finished instruments of its class. Indeed
it is of a stern simplicity; a board, two rollers, two windlass
handles and trestle legs bolted together, very stout and broad-footed.
Yet the man who made it contrived to fill its every line with a
horrible suggestiveness. Thus the plank, like the bottom of some old
coffins, is cut in and out to the shape of the human body, and each
other part has some separate quaintly-dreadful look. Again how ugly
are a beheading-block and its companion axe. Even a pair of stocks is
not ornamental, and I am told that the new electrical machine of death
now used in the United States is a thing hideous to behold.

The subject is disagreeable, so I will not treat of it further, except
to say generally that there seems to be some mysterious /rapport/
between violent sufferings and deaths and the instruments which man
has found most convenient to produce them. Here we have another
exemplification of the old proverb--like to like--the cruel things to
the cruel deeds. But this matter is too large to enter upon in the
pages of a book of travel.

On the occasion of my visit, amongst other convicts there were in the
Limasol prison, contemplating the gallows-beam aforesaid, four men who
were accused of the murder of a fellow-villager suspected of having
poisoned their cattle. Murder is a crime of not uncommon occurrence in
Cyprus, where many of the inhabitants are very poor and desirous of
earning money, even in reward of the destruction of a neighbour with
whom they have no quarrel. It has been proved in the course of
investigation of some of these cases that the fee paid was really
absurdly small, so low as ten shillings indeed, or, as one of the
judges informed me, in the instance of a particularly abominable
slaughter, four shillings and no more. Some of the victims suffer on
account of quarrels about women, as in Mexico, where in a single
village street on a Sunday morning, after the orgies of a Saturday
night, I have seen as many as three dead, or at least two dead and one
dying. More frequently, however, in Cyprus the victim is a downright
bad character of whom a community are determined to be rid, so that in
fact the murder, as in the present example, partakes of the nature of
lynch-law.

After the commission of the crime its perpetrators, if suspected, hide
themselves in the mountains, where they must be hunted down like wild
beasts. One party of these outlaws defied arrest for quite a number of
months, during which time they took several shots at the pursuing Mr.
Mavrogordato. Ultimately, however, they were themselves shot, or
caught and hanged.

The view from the top of the castle was perhaps even more beautiful
than that of Colossi. In front, the boundless sea whereon poor
Berengaria of Navarre, rolling in the roads of Limasol, suffered such
dire perplexities and exercised so wise a caution. Behind, the slopes
of the grey mountains with Trooidos towering above them, white-capped
just now with snow. To the right the salt lake, and immediately
beneath, the town dotted here and there with palms.

Just at the foot of the fortress is the Turkish quarter, for the most
part nothing better than a collection of mud hovels. The population of
Cyprus, it may be explained, is divided into Turks and pure Cypriotes.
These Turks, I suppose, are the descendants of those members of the
invading Ottoman army under Mustafa which conquered Cyprus three
centuries ago, who elected to remain in the island as settlers. The
proportion is roughly--Turks one-third of the population, Cypriotes
two-thirds. The Turks, who generally live in villages by themselves,
are going down the hill rapidly, both in numbers and wealth, being
poor, lazy, fatalistic, and quite unfitted to cope with their cleverer
Christian compatriots. In many instances, however, they are respected
and respectable members of the community, brave in person and upright
in conduct. Few of them can afford more than one wife and as a rule
their families seem small.

The richer and more successful class of Cypriotes have a habit of
adopting Greek names, but in fact very few of them are Greeks except
for so much of the Mycenian blood as may remain in their veins. Still
some of them intrigue against the British Government and affect a
patriotic desire for union with Greece, that even the disillusionment
of the Turkish war has not quenched. These aspirations, which, in some
instances at any rate, are said to be not uninfluenced by the hope of
rewards and appointments when the blessed change occurs, are scarcely
likely to be realised. If Cyprus is ever handed over to any one by
Great Britain, it must be to its nominal suzerain the Sultan, to whom
the reversion belongs. But surely, after the stories of the recent
massacres of Christians, and other events connected with Turkish rule,
British public opinion, exercised as it is profoundly by the existing
if half-avowed alliance between this country and the evil system which
the Sultan represents, could never allow of such a step. It would be
monstrous to give back Christians into his keeping, and a crime to
plunge Cyprus once more into the helpless, hopeless ruin, out of which
under our just if sorely hampered government it is being slowly
lifted.

After inspecting Mr. Mavrogordato's stud--if that be the correct
expression--of homing pigeons which with characteristic energy--not
too common a quality in Cyprus--he is breeding up from imported birds,
we descended from the roof to the foundations of the castle. Here we
visited a large vaulted place whereof the windows have been built up
in some past age. Now, we see by the light of our lanterns, it is a
rubbish room, and before that, as I imagine from several indications,
under the Turkish régime, probably it served as a magazine for the
storage of powder. In the old days, however, this place was a chapel
and here it is said, upon what exact authority I know not, that
Richard Coeur-de-Lion was married to Berengaria of Navarre. The only
account of these nuptials that I can lay my hand on at this moment is
from a contemporary chronicle of Geoffrey de Vinsauf or Vinosalvo. He,
it will be observed, although writing of Limasol, or Limouzin as he
calls the town, does not mention the church in which the wedding was
solemnised. If there was more than one available, which is to be
doubted, it seems most probable that the chapel of the fortress would
have been chosen. This is what Geoffrey says:--


 "On the morrow, namely on the Sunday, which was the festival of St.
  Pancras, the marriage of King Richard and Berengaria, the daughter
  of the King of Navarre, was solemnised at Limouzin: she was a
  damsel of the greatest prudence and most accomplished manners, and
  there she was crowned queen. There were present at the ceremony
  the Archbishop and the Bishop of Evreux and the Bishop of Banera,
  and many other chiefs and nobles. The king was glorious on this
  happy occasion, and cheerful to all, and showed himself joyous and
  affable."


How strange are the vicissitudes of walls! The fortunes of the
short-lived generations that inhabit them are not so variable, for
these stones last longer and see more. What a contrast between this
place in its present state, lumber-strewn and lit only by a few dim
lamps, to that which it must have presented in the year 1191 when the
warrior king, Richard, one of the most remarkable and attractive
characters who occupy the long page of our English history, took to
himself a wife within their circuit. It is not difficult, even to the
dullest and least imaginative of the few travellers who stray to this
unvisited place, to reconstruct something of that pageant of the
mighty dead. The splendid figure of the king himself, clad in shirt of
mail and broidered tabard gay with the royal arms of England. The fair
bride glittering in her beautiful silken garments and rich adornment
of gems. The archbishop and bishops in their mitred pomp. The great
lords and attendant knights arrayed in their various armour. The crowd
of squires and servitors pressing about the door. The altar decked
with flowers, the song of such choristers as could be found among the
crews of the galleys--all the gathered splendour, rude but impressive,
of perhaps the most picturesque age that is known to history.

Then these great folk, thousands of miles away from their northern
home, who had laboriously travelled hither exposed to the most fearful
dangers by land and sea, enduring such privations as few common
soldiers would now consent to bear, not to possess themselves of
gold-mines or for any other thinly-veiled purposes of gain, but in the
fulfilment of a great idea! And that idea--what was it? To carry out a
trust which they conceived, wisely or in foolishness, to be laid upon
them--the rescue of the holy places from the befouling hand of the
infidel. Well, they are gone and their cause is lost, and the Moslem,
supported by the realm which once they ruled, still squats in the Holy
Land. Such is the irony of fate, but for my part I think that these
old crusaders, and especially our hot-headed Richard of England, cruel
though he was at times, as we shall see at Acre, are worthy of more
sympathy than a practical age seems inclined to waste upon them. Peace
to their warlike, superstitious souls!

On leaving the castle we visited an inn, in the yard of which stood
scores of mules. It was an odoriferous but interesting place. Under a
shed at one side of it sat about a dozen smiths at work, men who hire
their stands at a yearly or monthly rent. Fixed into the ground before
each of them--it must be remembered that these people sit at their
work, which is all done on the cold iron without the help of fire--was
a tiny anvil. On these anvils the craftsmen were employed in
fashioning the great horseshoe nails of the country, or in cutting out
and hammering thin, flat, iron plates which are used in the East for
the shoeing of mules and donkeys. These discs that are made with only
one small hole in the centre, must in many ways be prejudicial to the
comfort and health of the beast, or so we should think, since they
cause its frog to grow foul and rot away. The teachings of practical
experience, however--for which after some study of such things I have
great respect--seem to prove this kind of shoe to be best suited for
use upon the stony tracks of the country. These plates are secured to
the animal's hoof by six of the huge-headed nails that I have
mentioned, and if properly fixed will last for several months without
renewal.

The instrument used to trim the hoof before the shoe is fastened, is a
marvellous tool, almost of the size of a sickle with a flat knife
attached to it as large as a child's spade. Probably all these
implements, especially if connected in any way with agriculture, such
as the wooden hook with an iron point which they call a plough, are
essentially the same as those that were familiar to the Phoenicians
and the Mycenian Greeks. In the Holy Land, at any rate, as we shall
see later, they have not changed since the time of our Lord.

That this was so as regards the shoeing of horses in or about the year
1430 is proved by the following passage which I take from the travels
of Bertrandon de la Brocquière of Guinne, who made a pilgrimage to
Palestine in 1432. He says:--


 "I bought a small horse that turned out very well. Before my
  departure I had him shod in Damascus; and thence as far as Bursa,
  which is fifty days' journey, so well do they shoe their horses
  that I had nothing to do with his feet, excepting one of the fore
  ones, which was pricked by a nail, and made him lame for three
  weeks. The shoes are light, thin, lengthened towards the heel, and
  thinner there than at the toe. They are not turned up, and have
  but four nail-holes, two on each side. The nails are square, with
  a thick and heavy head. When a shoe is wanted, and it is necessary
  to work it to make it fit the hoof, it is done cold, without ever
  putting it in the fire, which can readily be done because it is so
  thin. To pare the hoof they use a pruning knife, similar to what
  vine-dressers trim their vines with, both on this as well as on
  the other side of the sea."


This description might well apply to the shoeing of animals in Cyprus
and Syria to-day.

From the inn we walked to the municipal market, where we found many
strange vegetables for sale, including radishes large as a full-grown
carrot. Nothing smaller in the radish line seems to flourish here, and
I am informed that for some occult reason it is impossible to
intercept them in an intermediate stage of their development. Perhaps,
like mushrooms, they spring up in a single night. I am grateful to
these vegetables, however, for the sight of them made clear to me the
meaning of a passage by which I have long been worried. I remember
reading, I forget where, in the accounts of one of the
pyramid-building Pharaohs--Chufu, I believe--that he supplied tens of
thousands of bunches of radishes daily to the hundred thousand
labourers who were engaged upon the works.

What puzzled me was to know how Chufu provided so enormous and
perennial a supply of this vegetable. The radishes of Cyprus solve the
problem. One of these would be quite enough for any two
pyramid-builders. I tasted them and they struck me as stringy and
flavourless. Another old friend in a new form was celery tied in
bunches, but such celery! Not an inch of crisp white root about it,
nothing but green and leathery head. It appears in this form because
it has been grown upon the top of the ground like a cabbage. Many
people have tried to persuade the intelligent Cypriote to earth up his
celery, but hitherto without result. "My father grew the herb thus,"
he answers, "and I grow it as my father did." Doubtless the
Phoenicians, ignorant of the arsenic it was said to contain, liked
their celery green, or perhaps it was the Persians.

Meat and game, the former marked--so advanced is Limasol--with the
municipal stamp for /octroi/ purposes, are also sold here. There on
one stall next to a great pile of oranges, lie half-a-dozen woodcock,
brown and beautiful, and by them a brace of French partridges now just
going out of season, while further on is a fine hare. On the next,
hanging to hooks, are poor little lambs with their throats cut,
scarcely bigger than the hare, any of them; and full-grown sheep, some
not so large as my fat black-faced lambs at Easter. A little further
on we came to a cobbler's shop, where we inspected the native boots.
These are made of goatskin and high to the knee, with soles composed
of many thicknesses of leather that must measure an inch through.
Cumbersome as they seem, the experience of centuries proves these
boots to be the best wear possible for the inhabitants of the
mountainous districts of this stony land. On the very day of which I
write I saw a Cypriote arrayed in them running over the tumbled ruins
of an ancient city and through the mud patches whereby it was
intersected, with no more care or inconvenience than we should
experience on a tennis lawn.



                             CHAPTER VIII

                               AMATHUS

Now I have to tell of Amathus, the place we passed on our journey down
the coast, to-day a stone-strewn hill covered with springing corn.
Even in the far past Amathus was so ancient that no one knew with
certainty of its beginnings. It is said to have been founded by the
Phoenicians; at any rate in it flourished a temple to the god
Melkarth, and with it a famous shrine erected in honour of Venus. The
mythical hero, Theseus, according to one account, is reported to have
landed here with Ariadne, the daughter of Minos, who died in
childbirth in the city, although the story more generally accepted
says that he abandoned her on the island of Naxos. Whatever truth
there may be in all these legends--and probably it is but little--this
is certain, that in its day Amathus was a great town inhabited by a
prosperous and powerful people. It lies about five or six miles from
Limasol and is approached by a road which runs along the sea, whence
it is separated by a stretch of curious black sand which blows a good
deal in high winds. On the way Mr. Mavrogordato pointed out to me an
ingenious method whereby he is attempting to turn that barren belt
into profitable soil. He seems to have discovered that this sand,
wherein one might imagine nothing would grow, is suitable to the needs
of the black wattle. At any rate the trees of that species which he
planted there, although scarcely more than a year old, are now large
and flourishing shrubs.

As we drew near to Amathus I perceived curious holes by the roadside,
covered in for the most part with rough slabs of stone. Once these
holes were tombs, rifled long ago. Then we came to the site of the
town stretching down to the sea-beach, where stand the remnants of a
castle which we saw from the steamer. Now it is nothing but a hillside
literally sown with stones that, no doubt, once formed the foundations
of the dwellings of Amathus. I say the foundations, for I believe that
the houses of these ancient cities, as in the villages of Cyprus
to-day, were for the most part built of green brick, or what here in
Norfolk we should call clay-lump, which in the course of centuries of
sun and rain has melted away into the soil. The temple, public
buildings and palaces must have been magnificent, and as I shall show
presently, wonderful care was lavished upon the tombs; but the
habitations of the great mass of the citizens were in all likelihood
humble and temporary structures, or so I think. It is the same in
Egypt, where the old inhabitants grudged neither wealth nor labour in
the preparation of graves, their everlasting abode, but were content
to fashion their earthly lodgings of the Nile mud that lay at hand.

Amathus must have been very strong, indeed it would be difficult to
find a site better suited to defence. It is surrounded by steep
natural ravines which served the purpose of moats, and surmounted by a
towering rock with precipitous sides, along whose slopes the city lay.
Upon this rock, says tradition, stood an impregnable citadel; indeed
the site is still called "The Old Castle" by the peasants of the
neighbouring village of Agia Tychenos. Now all these countless stones
furnish their humble tillers with a seed-bed for wheat and barley. The
inexperienced might imagine that no place could be more unsuitable for
the growing of crops, but in fact this is not so, seeing that in the
severe Cyprian droughts stones have the property of retaining moisture
to nurture the roots which otherwise would perish.

On arriving at the foot of the hill we rode round it to visit the
tombs which lie behind and beyond, taking with us a supply of candles
and several peasants as guides. These sepulchres were, I believe,
discovered and plundered more than twenty years ago by General
Cesnola, the consul, whose splendid collection of antiquities is to be
seen in America. The first we reached lay at the bottom of a deep pit
now rapidly refilling with silt washed into it by the winter wet. In
the surrounding rubbish we could still see traces of its violation,
for here lay many fragments of ancient amphorae and of a shattered
marble sarcophagus. After the rains that had fallen recently the path
through the hole leading into the tomb was nothing but a pool of
liquid mud through which, to win an entrance, the explorer must crawl
upon his stomach, as the soil rises to within about eighteen inches of
the top blocks of its square doorway. The task seemed dirty and in
every way unpleasing, but I for one did not travel to Cyprus to be
baffled by common, harmless mud. So I took off my coat, which in the
scant state of our wardrobe I did not care to spoil, and went at it,
on my hands and toes, that the rest of me might avoid the slush as
much as possible.

It was a slimy and a darksome wriggle, but quite safe, in this respect
differing somewhat from a journey of a like nature which I made a good
many years ago. That was near Assouan in Egypt, where at the time
certain new tombs had just been discovered which I was anxious to
explore. These tombs were hollowed in the rock at the top of a steep
slope of sand, which choked their doorways. Seeing that, as at
Amathus, there was just sufficient space beneath the head of the
doorway of one of them for a man of moderate size to creep through, I
made the attempt alone. Writhing forward, serpent-wise, through the
sand, presently I found myself in the very grimmest place that I have
ever visited. It was a cave of the size of a large room, and when my
eyes grew accustomed to the faint light which crept through the hole,
I saw that it was literally full of dead, so full that their bodies
must once have risen almost to the roof. Moreover these dead had not
been embalmed, for round me lay their clean bones by hundreds and
their skulls by scores. Yet once this sepulchre was at the service of
older and more distinguished occupants, as under the skeletons I found
a broken mummy-case of good workmanship, and in it the body of a woman
whose wrappings had decayed. She died young, since at the time of her
decease she was just cutting her wisdom teeth.

As I wondered over these jumbled relics of the departed, I remembered
having read that about the time of Christ, Assouan was smitten with a
fearful plague which slew its inhabitants by thousands. Doubtless, I
thought, here are the inhabitants, or some of them, whose bodies in
such a time of pestilence it would have been impossible to embalm. So
they must have brought and piled them one on another in the caves that
had served as sepulchres of the richer notables among their
forefathers, till all were full. I remembered also that plague germs
are said to be singularly long-lived and that these might be getting
hungry. With that thought I brought my examination of this interesting
place to a sudden end.

Just as I was beginning my outward crawl, foolishly enough I shouted
loudly to my companion whom I had left at the entrance of another
sepulchre, thinking that he might help to pull me through the hole.
Almost immediately afterwards I felt something weighty begin to
trickle on to my back with an ever-increasing stream and in a flash
understood that the reverberations of my voice had loosened the
over-hanging stones already shaken and shattered by earthquakes, and
that the sand was pouring down upon me from between them. Heavens! how
frightened I was. Luckily one does not argue under such circumstances
where, indeed, he who hesitates is lost. If I had stopped to think
whether it would be best to go back or to go forward, to go quick or
to go slow, it is very probable that long since I should have added an
alien cranium to those of that various pile. Instead I crawled forward
more swiftly than ever I crawled before, notwithstanding the
increasing weight upon my back, for the sand fell faster and faster,
with the result that as no stone followed it to crush me, presently,
somewhat exhausted, I was sitting fanning myself with a grateful heart
in the dazzling sun without.

To return to Amathus and a still older tomb: this doorway beneath
which we passed was also square and surmounted by four separate
mouldings. Once through it, we lighted our candles to find ourselves
standing in a kind of chapel, where I suppose the relatives of the
dead assembled at funerals or to make offerings on the anniversaries
of death. Out of this chapel opened four tombs, each of them large
enough to contain several bodies. They are empty now, but their
beautiful workmanship is left for us to admire. Thousands of years
ago--though to look at them one might think it yesterday--the hard
limestone blocks of which they are built were laid with a trueness and
finish that is quite exquisite. Clearly no scamped work was allowed in
old Phoenician tombs. In these graves and others close at hand,
General Cesnola found many antiques of value. Indeed one of our
guides, who was employed to dig for him, assisted at their ransack.

Some readers may remember a violent controversy which arose among the
learned over the allegation that Cesnola unearthed the most of his
more valuable antiquities in a single treasury at Curium. The said
antiquities, however, being, so the critics declared, of many
different styles and periods, it was found difficult to understand how
they could have been discovered in one place, unless indeed Curium
boasted a prehistoric British Museum with a gold-room attached. Here I
may say that a few days later I visited Curium in the company of
official gentlemen, who informed me that they were present when
excavations were made with the object of investigating these
statements. The statements, they said, were not proved.

Bearing this dispute in mind, I asked the Cypriote guide whether
General Cesnola found his most important objects heaped in one place
at Curium. He answered that antiquities were found here and there;
that often Cesnola himself was not present when they were found, but
that as they were dug up from the tombs they were collected by the
workmen and taken care of, to be given over to him whenever he might
come. I quote this bit of evidence for what it is worth, as in future
generations, when all these burial-places have been thoroughly
ransacked, the matter may become of interest because of the side-light
which it throws upon ancient history.

Much of our knowledge of the remote past is derived from tombs, and
yet to my mind our pleasing habit of violating the dead, whether for
purposes of gain or in order to satisfy our thirst for information, is
not altogether easy to justify. It is a very ancient habit. Because of
it the mummies of Rameses, the Pharaoh of the Oppression, of the
wondrous-faced Seti, his father, of the monarchs of, I think, the
Her-hor dynasty, and a host of others, about the period of the Persian
invasion were moved from their immemorial resting-places to the hiding
hole of Deir-el-Bahari. Long before this indeed the rulers of Egypt,
knowing the danger, were in the habit, at intervals of several hundred
years, of despatching royal commissioners to inspect the bodies of the
great departed and ascertain that they slept safe and undisturbed. I
myself have seen writings upon the outer wrappings of the deceased
which notified that such and such a commission inspected the corpse of
such and such a divine king--he who lay within the wrappings--now
"sleeping in Osiris," and found his coffins and corpse intact.

In this particular instance the efforts of the ancient Egyptians to
preserve the earthly remnants of those who ruled over them thousands
of years before, did but postpone the evil day. Tens of generations
went by, and in a fashion interesting enough but too long to describe
here, the hiding-place of Deir-el-Bahari was discovered. Modern
savants hurried to the place--one of them told me not long afterwards
that he nearly fainted with joy when by the light of candles held
above his head, he discovered the richness of that hoard. Up the deep
and narrow well were dragged the corpses of kings and queens as great
in their own time as Victoria or Napoleon. As they were borne to the
steamer the fellaheen women, inspired by some spirit of hereditary
veneration, ran along the banks of Nile weeping, tearing their hair
and throwing dust upon their heads because the ancient lords of their
land were being taken away and none knew where they would lay them.
Now rent from their wrappings, their half-naked bodies lie in the
glass cases of a museum to be stared at by every tourist. The face
before whose frown whole nations trembled and mayhap Joseph or Moses
bowed the knee, is an object for the common jest of the vulgar, and so
will remain until within a few decades or centuries it is burnt in a
conflagration, or torn to pieces by a drunken rabble, or
perchance--happier destiny--crumbled into dust as must happen soon or
late, to be thrown out upon the dung-heap for hens to scratch at.

Is it right? I ask who have been a sinner. Myself in the neighbourhood
of Abydos, to take one example out of several whereof the
recollections to-day fill me with some remorse, I found the mummy of a
child. She was a little girl, who, poor dear, had lived and died in
the first centuries of the Christian era, of Greek parentage,
probably, for her skin was exceeding white. She lay wrapped in
coloured bandages, not unlike some of the cottons which are
manufactured to-day, and on a piece of mummy cloth which covered them,
her parents had drawn a cross in red pigment and scrawled beneath it
in Greek characters the word "Christos."

I hold that holy rag in my hand as I write and it shames me that I do
so, but if I had not taken it the Arabs who were with me and who
showed me the hiding-place, would have sold it to the next traveller.
I remember that on the same journey we unwrapped the head of a mummy
purchased from some tomb-breaker for a few piastres. Oh! what a face
appeared! That man who had lived four thousand years ago might have
been a king, or a high-priest, so majestic were his withered features.
Certainly his blood must have been noble and his place high. Yet his
end was that a doctor sawed his skull open to see how it was embalmed.
May he forgive me for the part I took in that business, who then was
younger and more thoughtless.

At the time perhaps I did not understand quite as well as I do now--I
mention this in my excuse--how sincere and solemn was the belief which
among the old Egyptians led to this practice of embalming. Of all
people who have ever lived, not even excluding those of our Christian
faith, they held most firmly to the doctrine of the resurrection of
the body. Therefore they preserved that body against the hour of its
awakening, and the idea of its disturbance, or destruction, was to
them horrible. It was a futile faith, as they themselves recognised,
since knowing that no efforts of their own could guard against future
events--such as the arrival of the Nile tourist--they multiplied
images and pictures of the deceased, hoping that some one of them
might survive for the Ka or Double to haunt, and the Khu, or Spirit,
to reanimate at the appointed season. Piteous and idle plan, since
dust must to dust, be it soon or late. Still their faith may fulfil
itself in other ways, and we may venture to believe that at the last
the Spirit they were so sure of will not be left without its
tabernacle.

Yet is our offence as great, although with a strange and gross
materialism we suppose, when we consider the matter at all, that the
fact of these folk having died so long ago makes them fair prey for
our greed or curiosity. But what is time to the dead? Ten million ages
and a nap after dinner, unconsciousness can know no difference--to
consciousness refound they must be one. On awakening in each case the
recollections would be as vivid, the aspirations, the motives, the
thoughts, the beliefs, the sorrows, hopes and terrors as firm and
distinct. Once the senses are shut, time ceases to exist, if in truth
it exists at all. Then is the offence of the violation of this
hallowed dust so carefully hid away, any the less because it has slept
five thousand years, than it would be in the case of a resurrection
man who drags it from the grave it has occupied six hours, to sell it
to the dissecting-table? We are so apt to judge of the dead by the
standard of the possible feelings of the survivors, forgetting that
they may have their own feelings. Also the survivors, or rather the
departed contemporaries, may still be shocked.

These poor Phoenicians of Amathus had no such high hopes, although
from time to time there were plenty in Cyprus who shared them. Yet
they built their sepulchres with extraordinary expense and care,
facing towards the sea as though they wished to watch the sun rise and
set for ever. We break into them under the written order of the
British Museum, or secretly by night, and drag their ear-rings from
their ears, and their rings from their fingers, and set their staring
skulls upon back shelves in dealers' dens in Limasol where once they
ruled, to be sold for a shilling--skulls are cheap to-day--to the
first relic-hunting traveller. Well, so it is and so it will ever be.

The next tomb we came to had a beautiful V-shaped doorway, though only
the top of the inverted V was visible above the rubbish. I did not go
in here, being already sufficiently plastered with mud, almost from
head to foot indeed, but my companion, who is young and active,
achieved the adventure. As it turned out it might very easily have
been his last, for in climbing up the walls of the pit again, his foot
slipped on a little piece of greasy earth and down he went backwards,
dragging two Cypriotes with him in such fashion that all three of them
lay in a tangled heap at the bottom of the hole. The sight was
ludicrous enough, but as the older of the two guides explained to us,
had it not been for his quickness and address my nephew would
certainly have met with a serious accident. The man saw from the way
he was falling that his head or neck must strike against a stone at
the bottom of the pit, and managed to thrust his arm and thick sleeve
between the two. Once my own life was saved in a very similar fashion,
except that no human agency intervened. I was galloping a pony along
an African road when suddenly it crossed its legs and went down as
though it had been shot. In falling my head struck a stone on the road
with great force, but by chance the thick cloth hat which I was
wearing, being jerked from its place, interposed itself as a kind of
doubled-up cushion between my temple and the stone, with the result
that I escaped with slight concussion. I remember that the shock of
the fall was so great that my stout buckskin braces were burst into
four pieces.

That my nephew's danger was not exaggerated by the Cypriote is shown
by the fact that, within the last few years, at the mouth of this or
the very next tomb a German professor was killed in precisely the same
way. Indeed, now that I think of it, I remember reading of his sad
death in a paper. That poor gentleman, who was accompanied only by an
old woman, having finished his inspection began to climb up the sides
of the pit when a stone came out in his hand and he fell head first to
the bottom. He only lived about five minutes and our friend, the
protecting Cypriote, helped to carry away his body.

After this experience, having had enough of the interesting but dirty
pursuit of "tombing," we mounted our mules and rode round the hill of
the ancient city, a stone-strewn and somewhat awkward path. The
streets there must have been very steep in their day and a walk up to
the citadel on business, or to buy a slave or two kidnapped on the
shores of Britain as a special line for the Cyprian market, excellent
exercise for the fat old wine-bibbing merchants, whose scattered bones
and broken drinking-cups we had just been handling yonder among the
tombs.

Now the place is melancholy in its desolation. There is nothing left,
nothing. It might have formed the text of one of Isaiah's prophecies,
so swept of life is it and of all outward memorials of life. I could
only find one remnant. On the face of a towering rock we discovered a
short uncial Greek inscription which is beginning to feel the effects
of weather. Our united scholarship pieced this much out of it: "Lucius
Vitellius, the great conqueror, erected this from his own." Here the
information comes to a full stop, for we could not make out any more.
Perhaps some reader of this page may know with certainty which Lucius
Vitellius is referred to and why he was engaged in conquering at
Amathus. Is it perchance Lucius Vitellius, the father of the emperor
who was governor in Syria, in A.D. 34? If so he might well have
described himself as "the great humbug" instead of the great
conqueror, as is proved by the famous story that is told of him
concerning Caligula and the moon. According to Tacitus, however, he
was a good governor. "I am not ignorant that he had a bad name in Rome
and that many scandalous things were said of him, but in the
administration of the provinces he showed the virtues of an earlier
age."

I daresay that yonder crumbling screed may be the only actual monument
that is left to-day of this Vitellius, his pomp, his cunning, and his
flattery.

As we returned home the scene was very beautiful. In the west the sun
sank gorgeously, his fan-like arrows breaking and reflecting
themselves from the dense purple under-clouds that had gathered and
lay low upon the horizon of the slumbering deep. High above in the
fathomless blue spaces of the Cyprian heavens, rode the great moon,
now rounding to her full, her bright face marked with mountain scars.
And the lights that lay on sea, sky and land, on the plain of Limasol
and the mount of ruined Amathus, who shall describe them--those
changeful, many-coloured lights, so delicate, so various and so
solemn?

On the day after our visit to Amathus I attended the Court-house to
listen to the magisterial examination of the men (whose numbers had
now increased to six) whom I had seen previously in jail awaiting
their trial upon a charge of murder. The court was crowded with the
relatives of the accused; /zaptiehs/, or policemen; a selection of
idlers from among the general public; a goodly number of Greek
advocates crowded together in the front bench, and the six prisoners
themselves all squeezed into a dock which was much too small for them,
where they stood in a double row listening to the evidence with an
indifferent air, real or affected. For the rest Mr. Mavrogordato, as I
am told a veritable terror to evildoers, conducted the case for the
prosecution, bringing out his points with great clearness, while the
district judge, Mr. Parker, sat as a magistrate's court. The judicial
functions of the legal officials in Cyprus are by the way rather
curiously mixed, the same individual being able, apparently, to sit in
varying executory capacities.

The case was opened by the different advocates announcing for which of
the prisoners they appeared. Then Mr. Mavrogordato took up his parable
and began to examine the Greek doctor through an interpreter, whose
somewhat lengthy translations made the proceedings rather slow. When,
after a couple of hours, we had just got to the point where he turned
the body over, growing weary I went home to lunch. To this hour I
cannot say whether or no those reputed murderers, or if any, which of
them, still adorn the land of life, or whether under Mr.
Mavrogordato's guidance, they have passed beneath that black beam
which spans the central well in the old castle at Limasol. I think
very possibly, however, that they were all acquitted or reprieved, for
although I am certain that they, or some of them, did the deed, from
the opening of the case, out of the depths of a not inconsiderable
experience of such inquiries, I am convinced that every ounce of the
evidence in possession of the prosecution was absolutely and solely
circumstantial. Moreover, although they had dug him up again and
looked for it, the missing knife-point could not be found in the
vitals of the late-lamented cattle-poisoning rascal whom somebody had
slain. A broken and recovered knife-point goes a long way with a jury,
and its absence is equally favourable to the prisoner.

One afternoon I attended some athletic sports at Limasol. It was a
general feast-day, in honour of what or of whom I grieve to say I
forget, but on that occasion there were festivities everywhere.
Earlier in the day I went for a ride to a village some miles distant
which also was celebrating sports, that is to say a few loungers were
gathered together about an open place in the hamlet, and nobody was
doing any work. This I noticed, however, both in the village
aforesaid, on the ground at Limasol, and from the spires of all the
churches that I could see, a flag was flying. As it was a public
holiday one might have expected that this flag would be English, or
perhaps here and there, in deference to ancient and long-established
custom, Ottoman. It was neither, it was Greek. Everywhere that not
very attractive banner flaunted in the wind. I asked the reason but
nobody seemed to know an answer. They suggested, however, that it had
something to do with the Greek churches, and added that the upper
classes of the Cypriotes who call themselves, but are not, Greeks,
always flew the Greek flag.

I submit that this is not a good thing. Throughout the world and at
all periods of its history the flag flown is the symbol of the
authority acknowledged, or that the population wish to acknowledge. In
Cyprus of course the bulk of the inhabitants are not concerned in this
matter. The villagers of the remote hills and plains care little about
banners, but if they see continually that of Greece displayed on every
church tower and high place, and never, or rarely, that of Great
Britain which rules them, they may, not unnaturally, draw their own
conclusions. It is a small affair, perhaps, but one, I believe, which
might with advantage be attended to by the Government. Eastern peoples
do not understand our system of /laissez faire/ where the symbols of
authority are concerned, and are apt to argue that we are afraid to
show the colours which we do not fly. The Union Jack is not a banner
that should be hidden away in British territory. Nor is this my own
view only. It is shared by every unofficial Englishman in Cyprus,
though these are few. Officials may have their opinions also, but it
would not be fair to quote them.

After the sports were over I had an interesting conversation with a
gentleman well acquainted with the customs of the country. He told me
that few traces of the old Phoenician rites remain, except that which
is still celebrated in some districts upon Whitsunday. Then, as did
their forefathers thousands of years since, the villagers go down to
the sea and bathe there, both sexes together. It is the ancient
welcome given to Venus in the island fabled to be her chosen house,
mixed up perhaps with some Christian ceremony of washing and
regeneration. The bathers throw water over each other, but so far as
outward appearances go, there is nothing incorrect in their conduct at
these quaint and primitive celebrations.

My friend told me also, to return to another subject, of the vast
benefit which the British Government has conferred upon the island by
the practical extermination of the locust. All the ancient visitors to
Cyprus, or at least many of them, speak of this curse, which twenty
years ago, and even on the occasion of my last visit, was in full
operation. An ingenious Greek gentleman devised the remedy. Roughly
the system is this. Locusts, impelled thereto by one of those wondrous
instincts that continually amaze the student of nature, at the
appointed season select certain lands wherein to lay their eggs, which
must not be too deep or too shallow, and when the pests begin to grow
must furnish certain food on the surface of the sandy soil necessary
to their support. Observation soon enables skilled persons to discover
these spots. Then the system first invented by Mr. Mattei and
perfected by my late friend, Mr. Samuel Brown, is brought into
operation.

Briefly, it consists of the erection of screens of canvas many yards
in length edged at the top with shiny American cloth, in front of
which screens are dug deep trenches. About a fortnight after the
locusts are hatched out of the egg, having exhausted the supply at the
breeding-place, they begin their march across country in search of
nutriment. Then it is that strange things happen to them, for climbing
up the canvas screens which they find barring their path, their feet
slip upon the leather and down they slide backwards into the
ready-made grave beneath. Before they can crawl up again others tumble
on the top of them, and so it goes on till the trench is full. Now
observant human beings arrive, cover it in to prevent effluvium and
move the screen a few yards further on to another trench that they
have prepared, where this page of locust-history repeats itself. It
might be thought that learning wisdom--from his fellows' fate--the
locust would in time educate himself to go round the screen. But not
so, for of all this insect's characteristics obstinacy is the most
prominent. He means to travel a certain path; if it involves his
death, so much the worse, at least he will travel till he dies.
Doubtless it is this singleness of purpose, this incapability of
changing his mind, that makes the locust so great and formidable.

And formidable he is, or was, as any one will know who has ever seen a
stretch of growing corn, or a grove of fruit-trees, or any green thing
that is of service to man, over which the locust has passed. Joel the
prophet knew him long ago, before ever Messrs. Mattei and Brown had at
last taught humanity how to beat him (i.e. in an island like Cyprus).
"He hath laid my vine waste and barked my fig-tree: he hath made it
clean bare, and cast it away; the branches thereof are made
white. . . . How do the beasts groan! the herds of cattle are
perplexed, because they have no pasture: yea, the flocks of sheep are
made desolate." And again--here he describes them at their work. Could
it be more vividly done, could any words give a more vivid picture of
the overwhelming invasion of this bane and the waste it leaves behind?

"A fire devoureth before them and behind them a flame burneth: the
land is as the garden of Eden before them, and behind them a desolate
wilderness; yea, and nothing shall escape them. . . . Like the noise
of chariots on the tops of mountains shall they leap, like the noise
of a flame that devoureth the stubble."

Such indeed is the sound that has been heard to rise from the millions
of their moving jaws.

However, as I have said, thanks to the continued exertions of the
Government, locusts are now practically exterminated in Cyprus.

What their ravages have been in the island for ages past may be
gathered from a single quotation which I take from the writings of
Benedetto Bordone, the geographer, of Padua, whose work was published
in 1528. It is only one example, but it will serve:--


 "But among so much good, that there may be nothing in this world
  without its bitterness, the luck of the island has this one
  drawback, mingling with its blessings so heavy a curse that men
  can hardly bear up against it--that a vast multitude of
  /cavalette/ or locusts appear with the young wheat: these as they
  pass from place to place are so many in number that like a thick
  cloud they hide the sun: and where they light they devour and
  consume not only the grain and grass, but even the roots below
  ground, so that one might say that fire had blasted everything.
  Yet they use all diligence to destroy these insects, and make a
  very great outlay to seek out the eggs while they are in the
  earth, and they do indeed in some years find of them thirty
  thousand bushels. Besides this they use yet another remedy of a
  strange kind; they send to Syria to fetch a certain water, with
  which they soak the ground, and where it is thus soaked the eggs
  burst and produce none of these insects."


What water was this, I wonder?



                              CHAPTER IX

                                CURIUM

Charming as is Cyprus in many ways, it is a place where the traveller,
especially the English traveller, and still more the unofficial
dweller in the land, has some reason to congratulate himself if he was
born with the gifts of patience and humility. In practice the island
is inhabited by two classes only, the Government officials and the
native Cypriotes. Between these there is a great gulf fixed, in itself
a bad thing as I think, since it is not good for any man, or body of
men, to be continually surrounded by people whom they consider very
much their inferiors. In Africa I have known weak folk driven crazy by
this plethora of authority, and nine individuals out of ten it makes
conceited. Only really large-minded men can bear the weight of
unquestioned power and remain unspoiled, men big enough to know how
frail and small the rest of us are.

To return--wide as that gulf may be, it is not altogether easy to
float there. In other words, an inhabitant who is not an official has
no "position" in Cyprus, and is collectively relegated to a class by
himself, or so it seemed to me. It is, however, very much to be
regretted that this class is not larger. In that event not only would
life become less narrow in the island, for red tape in quantity does
restrict the intellect; its rulers also would be exposed to the tonic
and stimulus of competent and independent public opinion. At present
of factious opposition to the Government from the Greek party and
others there is plenty, of intelligent and suggestive criticism at the
hands of equals and compatriots, little or none at all.

The questions of social status and precedence do not affect the
traveller, however, though if he be of an observant mind they may
amuse him. What /does/ affect him are the hide-bound Cyprian
regulations. One I have mentioned, and its inconveniences--that having
to do with revolvers--but it is as nothing compared to those which
overtake the individual who ventures to come to Cyprus armed with a
fowling-piece in the hope of shooting duck or woodcock. I,
unfortunate, had sent mine on, and finding it awaiting me at the
custom-house at Limasol, suggested that I might take it away. Thereon
I was informed very politely that I must comply with a few
formalities. First, it proved imperative that I should obtain from the
Government at Nicosia a certificate that I was a fit and proper person
to be allowed to carry so dangerous a weapon as a shot-gun. Secondly,
a value must be set upon the said gun which must be approved. Thirdly,
the fourth part of the value thus ascertained must be paid over in
cash to the custom-house officer, who, on the owner quitting the
island within a certain period of time and satisfying him that he had
not disposed of the gun, would repay three-quarters of the total
amount so deposited, the Government retaining the rest for its
trouble. Fourthly, a game-license must be taken out. This I think an
excellent regulation.

It can easily be imagined that by the time I had written the necessary
letters, signed the necessary documents, paid the necessary deposit
and interviewed the necessary number of officers, I wished almost that
I had thrown my gun into the sea before I was foolish enough to bring
it to Cyprus. Even now when the trouble is done with, I venture to ask
whether all these formalities are really needful in the case of a
person known to be a /bonâ-fide/ traveller who proposes to tarry for a
few weeks only in the land? The same question might be asked of other
Cyprian regulations and of their method of enforcement.

A more serious matter, as I myself experienced, for which indeed the
Government is not responsible, although I think it might take action
to prevent the inconvenience, is connected with the Turkish telegraph
line which purports to deliver messages in Cyprus. What happens, and
has happened perpetually for the last year or so since the cable was
hopelessly broken, and intermittently before that time, is that a
message taken by the Turkish line, without warning or other
enlightenment to the sender in whatever part of the world he may be,
passes over their wires to Port Said or Beyrout, where it is left to
lie until a ship is sailing. Thence it is sent on by post and
re-telegraphed from Larnaca to its address by the Eastern Telegraph
Company, for which service is charged a fee of one and ninepence.

In my case I despatched a cable to Italy, by the Eastern Telegraph
Company, to which I had previously arranged to receive an immediate
reply. No answer came and I grew anxious. Days passed and finally the
reply did come, a week late, having been forwarded by post from Port
Said! My hostess informed me that within a single year the same thing
had happened no less than thrice to people staying in her house. For a
specimen result I quote an instance that occurred just before I
arrived. The father of a lady who was staying with a friend in the
island, died in England, and the sad news was at once telegraphed to
her. This message was sent by the Turkish wires with the shocking
result that the person concerned first learned of her bereavement
through a casual perusal of the advertisement columns of the /Times/.
The cable itself was delivered a day or so later than the newspaper.

It would seem that the Government might move to put a stop to this
constant and intolerable scandal of a telegraph line accepting and
being paid for messages which it has neither the intention nor the
means of delivering. I am informed, however, that it does not do so
because such action might raise "a political question" and give
offence to the Turks. If I were in a position of authority I think
that I should take the risk of that offence and of the use of a little
plain language.

Still notwithstanding these and other drawbacks, unavoidable perhaps
in a country soaked with oriental traditions, Cyprus is in many ways a
most delightful spot, and it is remarkable that more English people do
not live there, at least for the winter season. Actual residence in
the island to all but those inured to heat, involves a three months'
stay in summer under canvas or in huts on the mountain heights of
Trooidos, whither the officials move annually from Nicosia. This is a
sojourn that must become monotonous in spite of the delightful air and
scenery of the pine forests, since lawn-tennis parties and picnics,
where the guests are continually the same, will pall on all except the
youngest and most enthusiastic. For the other nine months of the year,
or most of them, the climate is pleasant and healthy.

I know that in the last respect, it has a different reputation;
arising I believe from the fact that when it was first acquired from
the Turks, some regiments of debilitated troops were sent from Egypt
to recover in Cyprus. Those in authority proceeded to secure this
object through the great heats of summer by setting them down in
overcrowded tents upon an undrained marsh, where they sickened and
died in considerable numbers. Also in old days the island's reputation
for wholesomeness was of the most evil.

I have discovered many references to this in the course of my reading,
but lack the time to search them out now; also to do so would be to
overburden these pages. Here are one or two extracts, however, upon
which I am able to lay hands, that will suffice to prove the point.
They are taken, for the most part, from /Excerpta Cypria/. Felix Fabri
writing in the fifteenth century says that on returning from a certain
expedition inland in Cyprus:--


 "When we reached the sea in our galley we found that two pilgrims
  were dead, one of whom was a priest of the Minorite order, a brave
  and learned man, and the other was a tailor from Picardy, and
  honest and good man. Several others were in the death agony. We,
  too, who had come from Nicosia, cast ourselves down on our beds
  very sick; and the number of the sick became so great, that there
  was now no one to wait upon them and furnish them with
  necessaries."


He goes on to tell how they put out to sea and met with sad
adventures:--


 "During this time one of the knights ended his days most
  piteously. We wound a sheet about him, weighted his body with
  stones, and with weeping cast him into the sea. On the third day
  from this another knight, who had gone out of his mind, expired in
  great pain and with terrible screams," and so forth.


Again Egidius van Egmont, and John Heyman, whose work was translated
from the Dutch in London in 1759, say:--


 "It is known by experience that the inhabitants of this island
  seldom attain to any great age, owing possibly to the badness of
  the air; malignant fevers being common here, especially towards
  the end of summer, and during our stay in the island, though it
  was in the spring, a contagious distemper swept away great numbers
  at Nicosia. But the air is most noxious at Famagusta and Lernaca
  owing to the vapours rising from the fens and saltpans in the
  neighbourhood. And at Lernaca, the air is most unhealthy when the
  sun is above the horizon."


Also Richard Pococke, whose well-known work was published in London in
1743, writes:--


 "These mountains and the shallow soil, which is mostly on a white
  free-stone, make it excessively hot in summer and the island is
  very unhealthy especially to strangers, who often get fevers here,
  which either carry them off, or at least continue for a
  considerable time, the disorder lurking in the blood and
  occasioning frequent relapses."


To come to quite recent times Monsieur Delaroiére, whose book, /Voyage
en Orient/, was published in 1836, talking of Larnaca says:--


 "We went out to this shrine, which is charmingly situated near a
  great lake and wooded hills, but the air is very unwholesome. In a
  visit we paid to the sheik we saw the insalubrity of the place
  stamped on every face; the pale and leaden complexions testified
  to habitual fever."


These short quotations, which could be easily supplemented by others
of like tenor, suffice to show that the healthiness of Cyprus has
always been in bad repute. Why this is so I cannot say, for, given the
most ordinary precautions, among warm countries it is certainly the
most wholesome that I have visited. I have scarcely heard of a death
that could in any way be attributed to climate among the European
officials, and children of northern blood seem to flourish there.
Probably its reputation may be set down to the lack of those ordinary
precautions and the insanitary condition of the place in the past. Few
people whose reading has not been more or less extensive know the
extent of the mortality throughout all lands in bygone generations. A
great proportion of the death rate everywhere was, I am convinced, due
to typhoid which nobody knew how to treat or how to avoid. It had not
even any specific name except the generic term of "feaver." For proof
of this such works as the Verney Memoirs may be consulted. It is
probable that a traveller from Cyprus visiting London about the year
1600 might have returned and described the city as most unwholesome.

Living in Cyprus is extraordinarily cheap. A family can flourish there
and have many comforts, such as riding-horses, &c., who at home would
be obliged to look twice at a bus fare and consider a visit to the pit
of a theatre a great luxury. Servants also are inexpensive and, on the
whole, might be a great deal worse. One in a house where I received
hospitality was really a very good, all-round man. He went by the name
of Cristo or Christ, an appellation common enough in Cyprus, though
one from the use of which northern people would refrain. There was a
boy also, an amusing young rascal, who when taken into service
evidently was half starved. Then he made up for it, for to my own
knowledge he could devour a large tin of bad potted lobster with
appetite and without ill effects; nor did he shrink from swallowing at
a draught a whole tureen of mint-sauce. On such diet he grew wondrous
fat.

In Cyprus everybody depends upon the sun, which is presumed to be, but
is not, always on show, at any rate in the winter months. Fireplaces
in the dwelling-rooms are a luxury introduced by the English, pleasant
enough and even needful in January and February. When the sun refuses
to shine inconveniences ensue. Thus the washing generally comes home
wet and I could discover but one means of airing it--to place the
garments which it was proposed to wear on the following day in bed and
sleep upon them. This receipt I frequently adopted. Old travellers
will know the plan and young ones may note the same.

Fourteen years or so ago when I was there, Cyprus was a very happy
hunting ground for the lovers of antiquities. Then many desirable
things could still be purchased. For instance there were objects of
silver that I suppose must be of mediaeval date, or a little later;
worked buckles that were worn by the inhabitants on great occasions,
round or shell-shaped and very beautiful, of which in those days I
obtained several pairs. Also there were curious reliquaries to be worn
about the neck, generally fashioned in the form of a hollow cross,
inside of which was placed a bit of saint or some other sacred scrap.
Now few such objects are to be found. Nearly all have vanished. I
searched the bazaar at Nicosia and every likely place in other towns,
without discovering even a single pair of buckles. I could find
nothing except one small reliquary. Veritable antiquities are almost
as rare to-day, owing largely to the prohibition that has been put
upon private digging in the interests of the British Museum.

On my first visit I was rather fortunate. Thus in a village not far
from Cyrenia I bought for a small sum from the man who dug it up, a
beautifully worked oriental bowl of bronze, dating, I should think,
from the fifteenth or sixteenth century. In this bowl the finder
discovered coins which he sold for the sum of three hundred pounds,
their value by weight. What coins they were I cannot say, for he had
parted with every one and could give no clear description of them.

Also I obtained from him a piece of glass which he had found, that at
once struck me as very curious. It is about six inches high, round,
with a narrow neck, and its great peculiarity lies in the fact that it
has five spirals of glass that spring from near the bottom of the
bowl, clearing its arch to join the vessel again at the root of its
neck. This vase I carried in my hand on horseback for many a weary
mile, fearing accidents, and ultimately brought it safe to England.
Here, as I saw that he was much struck with it, I gave it to my
friend, Sir John Evans, who read a paper on the piece at the Society
of Antiquaries, in whose records it is published.[*] It seems that the
vessel is Roman and unique. Sir John Evans ingeniously discovered the
method by which it was made, and even caused a replica to be
manufactured, how, it would be too long and difficult to explain. This
replica I still possess.

[*] /Proceedings/, March 13, 1890.

Another find was a marble head that once has worn a bronze helmet. It
seems to be of a very good Greek style and period. At first I thought
that it had adorned a statue of a goddess, but a well-known export
tells me that after taking measurements, &c., he believes it to be a
contemporaneous portrait of Faustina, of which lady of that name I am
not certain, but I imagine, the elder. This head, the best thing of
the sort that I can find in any Cyprian collection, either in the
island or the British Museum, I discovered serving the gentleman who
ploughed it up as a door-stop. But although he valued it so little it
took me two years to reduce it into possession, as I think that the
man who owned the land where it was found, claimed an interest in the
marble. Another beautiful object that came my way was a corroded
silver ring found in a tomb with an engraved scarabaeus bezel. This
ring the late Mr. Samuel Brown, who gave me a whole collection of
Cyprian pottery, offered to me for any price I chose to fix. But I had
spent all my money, so I said that I would take it home and sell it
for what I could get on his account. I disposed of the ring for ten
guineas to a well-known dealer who passed it on to the British Museum
for twenty guineas. Afterwards I felt sad when one of the great
experts there informed me that it was the best thing of the sort they
had secured for many a day, being, it would appear, an early and
exceedingly good copy of some famous work of art by, I think,
Praxiteles. And the moral of that is, as the Queen said to Alice,
never be economical when you see what your instinct tells you is a
good antique, or you will live to regret your virtuous impulse.

Also I procured one or two other objects which I submitted to the
British Museum. They said they were worth keeping--and kept them, by
way of exchange kindly presenting me with plaster casts edged round
with blue paper. Perhaps they are better there. I like to think so.

Now it is otherwise. Except the spear-head already mentioned, one
silver coin of Alexander is all my harvest, and of this I found a
better example years ago. About Alexanders, my friend, Mr. Christian,
an old resident in the island, told me a wondrous and authentic tale.
Some peasants digging, found an earthenware pot and in it nearly a
thousand gold coins, for the most part stamped with the head of that
monarch. The peasants disposed of them for their weight in gold, and
they were afterwards sold by the fortunate purchasers for seven or
eight pounds each. Where are they now, I wonder? Imagine the feelings
of the happy man who suddenly discovered a pot full of a thousand such
coins as these.[*] By the way I remember that a lady once showed me a
magnificent necklace made of gold coins of Alexander of different
sizes, which had been given her as a wedding present. Perhaps part of
that Cyprian find went to make this necklace. But of antiquities I
must stop talking, since they may have more fascination for me than
for my readers.

[*] I see that Mr. Hamilton Lang in his book "Cyprus," published in
    1878, gives a more detailed account of the finding of this
    treasure.

Our next expedition was to the site of ancient Curium, which is said
by Herodotus to have been peopled by Argives. To reach this ruined
city we passed the tower of Colossi and lunched in the police-station
of the beautiful and fertile village of Episcopi, a pleasant place for
picnics. Thence we rode on a mile or so to the waste that once was
Curium, through whole rows of tombs, every one of which are said to
have been plundered by the omnivorous Cesnola. In front of us rose a
steep hill upon whose face could be seen more tombs or rock chapels.
Up this mount we climbed and at the summit came to the ancient city.
As usual it was nothing but a tumbled heap of stones, but here the
anemones grew by thousands among them and made the place most
beautiful. Presently we found ourselves on the site of a temple. The
great columns prostrate and broken, the fragments of shattered frieze,
and the bits of mosaic flooring revealed by tearing up the sod, all
told the same unmistakable story of fallen greatness and a
magnificence that time, man, and earthquake have combined to desolate.
A little further on we reached a spot where the ground is literally
strewn with fragments of broken statues, some of them almost
life-size, but the greater number small. I picked up the lower parts
of two of these stone statues and put them into my--or rather the
/zaptieh's/ pocket. As I anticipated, they make excellent
letter-weights. What a falling off is here! The effigies of the gods
of old--the feet that were bedewed with tears of amorous maidens and
of young men anxious to succeed in piratical expeditions, serving as
the humble necessary letter-weight! Well, perhaps it is more
honourable than to be broken up to fill the shovel of a Cyprian
roadmaker.

By this spot is a well or pit which is said to be quite full of these
broken statues. Probably they were thrown here on some occasion when
the temple was sacked. Picking our path on horseback through the
countless stones for two-thirds of a mile or so, we came to another
and a larger temple. This was the great fane dedicated to Apollo
Hylatus. A wonderful place it must have been when it stood here in its
glory, peopled by its attendant priests and the crowd of worshippers
flocking to its courts with gifts. The situation on that bold highland
brow is superb and must be most splendid of all at dawn when the first
level rays of the sunrise sweep its expanse. Doubtless the ancients
placed the temple of their sun-god here that it might catch his arrows
while darkness yet veiled the crowded town below, the wide, fertile
plain which we call Episcopi, and the fields about the Norman tower of
Colossi--compared to these old columns but a mushroom of yesternight.

It is not possible, at any rate to the uninstructed traveller with
scant time at his disposal, to follow the exact configuration of this
temple of Apollo and its courts, nor indeed if he knew them, would
these details be of any great assistance to the imagination.
Everywhere are tumbled stones, shattered pillars, some of them
elegantly wreathed, overthrown altars and cavernous holes, in the
depths of which underground cisterns and passages become visible. In
short the cult of the worship of Apollo and his brother and sister
divinities--always excepting that of Venus who is immortal--is not
more ruined, neglected, and forlorn than this unvisited place, once
its splendid sanctuary. Apollo was a joyous god, but evidently he had
his stern side. At any rate not far away a headland runs out into the
sea, and from its precipitous bluff those who had offended against his
majesty--or had differences of opinion with his priests--were hurled
to expiate their crimes by a terrifying death. At least so says
tradition.

Leaving the temple of the lost Apollo our animals scrambled on through
the stones till at last these ceased and we came to a stretch of
bush-clad country. This is now one of the Government reserves kept
thus to enable the timber of which the Turks denuded the island to
spring up again safe from the ravages of man and beast. In such
reserves goats are not allowed to graze, for of all animals these do
the most damage to young timber, which they gnaw persistently until it
perishes. It is not too much to say that where there are many goats no
forest can arise. Cyprus in bygone ages was a densely wooded land.
Strabo, writing in the first year of the Christian era, says of it:--


 "Such then is Cyprus in point of position. But in excellence it
  falls behind no one of the islands, for it is rich in wine and oil
  and uses home-grown wheat. There are mines of copper in plenty at
  Tamassos, in which are produced sulphate of copper and
  copper-rust, useful in the healing art. Eratosthenes talks of the
  plains as being formerly full of wood run to riot, choked in fact
  with undergrowth and uncultivated. The mines were here of some
  little service, the trees being cut down for the melting of copper
  and silver; and of further help was ship-building, when men sailed
  over the sea without fear and with large fleets. But when even so
  they were not got under, leave was given to those who would and
  could cut them down to keep the land they had cleared in full
  possession and free of taxes."


Alas! far different is the case to-day. The Turks suffered the timber
to be destroyed in all save the most inaccessible places, and the
wasteful habits of the peasants who, if allowed, will cut up a whole
tree to make a single sheep-trough, completed the ruin. So it came
about that at last the land which used to supply Egypt with all the
wood necessary to build her fleets was almost denuded save on the
mountain peaks of Trooidos, with the result that the rainfall lessened
alarmingly. Since its advent, the British Government has done its best
to remedy this state of affairs. As it has no money to spend in
planting it has adopted another and perhaps on the whole a more
effective method. Although the trees have vanished in Cyprus, by the
wonderful preservative agency of nature their seeds remain in the
soil, and if goats can be kept off the hills where forests stood,
forests will again arise. Thus, although to speak of it anticipates my
story a little, it was with a most real pleasure that in travelling
from Nicosia to Cyrenia I saw the tops of great mountains which
fourteen years ago I remembered naked as a plate, covered to-day with
a thick growth of young firs that must now be fifteen or twenty feet
in height. A generation hence and those mountain tops will once more
bear a splendid forest. Care, however, is required which I do not
think is always exercised. The new-formed forest should be thinned, as
the wise woodman knows how to do, and the peasants allowed the use of
the thinnings. This would prevent their destroying the trees by
secretly firing the country, either from irritation and spite, or to
get the benefit of the young grass which springs up afterwards.

In this particular reserve near Curium of which I speak, however, to
my surprise I saw a flock of sheep and goats in the charge of a herd.
On asking how this came about, Mr. Michell, the commissioner for the
Limasol district, who kindly accompanied us and gave us the advantage
of his knowledge and experience, told me that the owners of these
animals claim ancient rights of which they cannot be dispossessed.
These rights endure until the man dies, or sells his flock. They are
however untransferable, nor may he add to the number of the animals
which he grazes. Thus by degrees the matter mends itself.

In the midst of this bush-clad plain stands the ancient /stadium/ of
Curium, where according to tradition the old inhabitants of classic
times celebrated their chariot races. In considering the place I was
much puzzled by one detail. The course is about two hundred yards or
six hundred feet long, but according to my rough pacings it never
measured more than eighty-four feet at the end where the chariots must
turn. I could not understand how three or four vehicles, harnessed
with four horses abreast, could possibly manage to negotiate this
awkward corner at full speed without more smashes than would tend to
the success of the entertainment. On reflection I am convinced that
chariot races were not run in this place. It has never, I think, been
a hippodrome, but was intended solely for athletic games and
foot-running. To this supposition its actual measurements give
probability, as they tally very well with those which were common in
old days.

This stadium is still singularly perfect; its walls being built of
great blocks of stone which here and there, however, must have been
shaken down by earthquakes, for nothing else could have disturbed
masonry so solid. The visitor can see also where the spectators sat,
and in the midst of that desolate scrub-covered plain it is curious to
think of the shouting thousands gathered from Curium, Amathus, and
perhaps Paphos, who in bygone generations hailed the victor in the
games and hooted down the vanquished. Now the watching mountains
above, the eternal sea beneath, and the stone-ringed area of their
fierce contests remain--nothing more. All the rest is loneliness and
silence. Dust they were, to dust they have returned, and only
wondering memory broods about the place that knew them. These relics
of a past which we can fashion forth but dimly, seem to come home with
greater vividness to the mind when a traveller beholds them, as on
this spot, in the heart of solitudes. Seen in the centre of cities
that are still the busy haunts of men they do not impress us much.

So we turned back to Limasol, riding by another road along the
headlands which overhang the ocean, and pausing, as I did now and
again, to watch the wide-winged vultures sweep past us on their
never-ending journeys. Very solemn they look hanging there upon
outstretched pinions between the sky and sea, as they hung when the
first Phoenician galley rowed to the Cyprian shores, as they will hang
till the last human atom has ceased to breathe among its immemorial
plains and mountains.



                              CHAPTER X

                         LIMASOL TO ACHERITOU

Hope, almost eclipsed off the Italian shores, rose again like a star
at Limasol, for thither came post-cards from the Brindisi Cook saying
that our lost luggage had actually been discovered and despatched to
the care of the Alexandria Cook, who would forward it at once. Indeed
it was time, for one feels, however generous-hearted may be the
lender, that it is possible to wear out a welcome to a borrowed
dress-suit. The /Flora/ came in; we rushed to meet her, but nobody on
board had even heard about our luggage. Then followed expensive cables
and in due course a fateful answer from the deluded Alexandria Cook:
"Cyprus quarantine restrictions forbid shipment."

I confess that at this point I nearly gave way, but recovering,
commenced the study of the maritime regulations of Cyprus, to be
rewarded by discovering that the importation of "rags and worn
clothing was prohibited until further notice." The "worn clothing"
referred to, I may explain, are the cast-off garments that have clad
the pilgrims to Mecca, or the donkey boys of Cairo. Applied in any
other sense no traveller or inhabitant could appear in a presentable
condition on the island, since that which they carry on their backs
would be "worn clothing." Yet, such is the inexorable stupidity of
officials in the East, thus was the clause--none too clearly drafted,
I admit--rendered by I know not whom in Alexandria.

Then followed more telegrams, letters of mingled threat and entreaty,
and so forth, till many days afterwards at length the luggage
reappeared and with it a very pretty bill. The matter seems small,
even laughable when written down in after-days, but at the time it was
troublesome enough, especially as the remote places of the earth are
just where a visitor must dress most carefully.

On the termination of our stay at Limasol, our plan was to go by sea
to Paphos, forty miles away, where our mules would meet us, thence to
ride to Lymni where an enterprising English syndicate is attempting to
reopen the old Phoenician copper mine, and lastly by Pyrga and Lefka
to the capital, Nicosia; in all about five days' hard travelling, for
the most part over mountains.

As the time of departure drew near, mighty and exhausting were the
preparations. Packing is always a task as laborious to the mind as to
the body. But when it means thinking out what is to go on the mules,
what to go to Nicosia, what to the final port of departure, what to be
thrown away as too cumbersome to carry, and what must be kept with the
traveller at all hazards in the very probable event of these various
parcels and belongings vanishing away to be seen no more, then
positive genius and genius of a peculiar sort is required to deal with
the emergencies of the situation. However at last Cabbages, that is
the muleteer, departed with his animals on which were laden camp-beds,
kettles, pounds of tea, candles, and I know not what besides, with
instructions to await our arrival at Paphos. The day passed on and it
was announced that the /Flora/ was once more in sight.

We went to the office and it was suggested that I should take the
tickets. Now Paphos is a harbour where the voyager can only land in
fine weather, whence, too, if it be not fine he is carried on to
Egypt, where he must wait until the unwearying /Flora/ again begins
her weekly round. As it happens, in the course of my life I have had
some experience of remote places where one cannot land or embark.
Indeed a mishap which once I met with at one of these in a far country
entailed upon me a considerable risk of being drowned, a large
expenditure of cash, some anxiety of mind, and a five days' journey in
a railway train. But although it is rather interesting, I will not
tell the tale in these pages.

"I suppose," I said to the agent, "that we shall be able to land at
Paphos?"

"Oh! I think so," he replied casually, whereon I intimated that I
would wait to take the tickets till the boat came in.

In time one learns to put a very exact value on the "I think so" of a
shipping agent. In this instance it assured me that there was not a
chance of our visiting the temple of Venus on the morrow.

The /Flora/ came in and with her my friend, Mr. Charles Christian, who
was kindly going to conduct us upon our tour.

"Shall we be able to land at Paphos?" I shouted.

He shook his head. "All the agents say we can," he said, "but the
captain and the boatmen say we can't."

Then resignedly I suggested that we had better give it up, since I
could not face the risk of making an involuntary trip back to Egypt.
Mr. Christian agreed and it was given up, though with great regret, a
message being despatched to Cabbages to travel with his mules to
Nicosia.

It was a true disappointment to me thus on my second visit to the
island, as on my first, to be prevented from visiting the very home of
Aphrodite, the place that the goddess chose to set her foot when she
rose from the foam of the sea. Not that there is, as I understand,
much more to be seen at either Old or New Paphos--Paleopaphos and
Neopaphos; they are six or eight miles apart--than among the ruins of
other ancient cities in the island. Still I wished to look upon the
place where St. Paul once reasoned with Sergius Paulus, the Deputy.
What a spectacle even for those ancient shores of Chittim that have
witnessed so many things--the mighty Apostle before the gates of the
wanton shrine of Venus, thundering denunciations at the wizard Elymas
and smiting him to darkness with the sword of the wrath of God! I
desired to have stood upon that road which, as Strabo tells us, "was
crowded year by year with men and women votaries who journeyed to this
more ancient shrine" from all the towns of Cyprus, and indeed from
every city of the known world. I desired also to have seen the tumbled
wrecks of the temple, that "sacred enclosure" which Perrot and Chipiez
recreate so vividly and well that, as I cannot better them, I will
quote their words, where


 "everything spoke to the senses; the air was full of perfume, of
  soft and caressing sounds, the murmur of falling water, the song
  of the nightingale, and the voluptuous cooing of the dove mingled
  with the rippling notes of the flute, the instrument which sounded
  the call to pleasure or led the bride and bridegroom to to the
  wedding feast. Under tents or light shelters built of branches
  skilfully interlaced, dwelt the slaves of the goddess, those who
  were called by Pindarus in the scoliast composed for Theoxenius of
  Corinth, the /servants of the persuasion/. These are Greek or
  Syrian girls, covered with jewels and dressed in rich stuffs with
  bright-coloured fringes. Their black and glossy tresses were
  twisted up in /mitras/, or scarves of brilliant colour, with
  natural flowers such as pinks, roses, and pomegranate blossoms
  hung over their foreheads. Their eyes glittered under the arch of
  wide eyebrows made still wider by art; the freshness of their lips
  and cheeks was highlighted by carmine; necklaces of gold, amber
  and glass hung between their swelling breasts; with the pigeon,
  the emblem of fertility, in one hand, and a flower or
  myrtle-branch in the other, these women sat and waited."


But Aphrodite was against me who serve Thoth, a foreign Egyptian god
with whom she had naught in common, and doubtless did not admire,
since--except in Ladies' Colleges--learning does not consort with
loveliness. So her shrine remains and will remain unvisited by me. I
regretted also not being able to examine the copper-workings of the
ancients at Lymni with the vast pit whence the ore was dug, the
mountains of slag that lie around, and the tunnel hundreds of yards
long which the genius and perseverance of the men of our generation
have burrowed through the solid rock with a lake of water above their
heads, in search of the lode which is waiting somewhere to make the
fortune of those who find it.[*] Last of all and most of all perhaps,
was I sorry not to see the beautiful stretch of mountain country which
lies in this part of the island.

[*] Although the main lode is not yet discovered, since the above was
    written extensive deposits of copper ore have been struck at
    Lymni.

Yet it is well that we did not attempt the adventure travelling
overland, as for a while we contemplated, for immediately thereafter
it came on to rain and rained for days. Now a journey on muleback over
the roadless Cyprian hills in rain is not a thing to be lightly
undertaken. The paths are slippery and in places dangerous, but worst
of all is the continual wet which, wrap himself as he will in
macintoshes, soaks baggage and traveller. If he could dry himself and
his belongings at the end of the day, this would matter little, but
here comes the trouble. The fire made of wild thyme or what not that
suffices to cook his food in a police-station or a tent, will not draw
the moisture from his clothes or blankets. So he must sleep wet, and
unless the sun shines, which in these seasons it often does not do for
days together, start on wet next morning. In any country this is
risky, in Cyprus it is dangerous, for here, as all residents in the
land know, a soaking and a subsequent chill probably breed fever.

I may add that certain passengers, pooh-poohing doubts, went on by the
/Flora/ to Paphos, to find themselves in due course in Egypt, whence
they returned ten days or so later. One gentlemen, Mr. Mavrogordato
indeed, did succeed in landing, but from another steamer. When the
Paphos boatmen learned by signal or otherwise that he was on board
this ship, which as I understand, having cargo to discharge, rolled
off the port for days, they clad themselves in lifebelts and made an
effort, with the result that ultimately he was landed, also in a
lifebelt and little else. The journey, I gather, was risky, but there
comes a time when most of us would rather take the chance of being
drowned than after a prolonged, involuntary tour return miserable and
humiliated to the place of starting.

At length came the eve of our departure from Limasol, not for Paphos,
but for Famagusta viâ Larnaca and Acheritou. In the afternoon we went
for a walk and gathered many wild flowers, and as the sun set I betook
myself to stroll upon the jetty. It was a calm evening and the solemn
hush which pervaded the golden sky and the sea, still heaving with
recent storm, made the place lovely. Some brutal boys were trying to
drown a cat, but to my delight the poor creature escaped them and
scrambled along the rough planks to the shore. They followed it into
the town, and I was left alone there listening to the water lapping
against the piers and watching an old fisherman in a fez sitting still
as a statue, his line between his fingers. He did not seem to belong
to the nineteenth century. He might have lived, and doubtless in the
persons of his progenitors did live, one or two or three or four
thousand years ago. I smoked my cigarette and contemplated him, half
expecting that presently he would draw out a brass bottle, as was the
fortune of fishermen in the "Arabian Nights," and thence unlock a
Jinn. But the brass bottle would not bite, nor the fish either.
Somehow it reminded me of another scene--a little pier that runs out
into the icy waters of the North Sea at Reykiavik, whence on such an
eve as this I remember seeing a boy angling for the flat fish that lie
in the yellow sands. Only here in Cyprus were no eider-duck, and there
in Iceland rose no minarets or palms.

I do not suppose that I shall see Limasol again, but thus while memory
remains I wish ever to recall it, with its twilight stillness, its
illimitable darkling ocean, its quaint eastern streets and buildings,
and over all of them and the mountains beyond a glorious golden pall
of sunset.

On a certain Sunday--everybody seems to travel upon the Sabbath in
Cyprus--the three of us, my nephew, Mr. Christian, and myself, started
in a rattle-trap carriage dragged by four scaffoldings of ponies, one
of which was dead lame, for Larnaca, about forty-five miles away.
There were many agitations about this departure. First of all arrived
a sulky-looking Greek, who declared that the carriage could not take
the luggage and refused to allow it to be loaded. This was rather
gratuitous on his part, as it seems that he had no interest in the
conveyance, except some possible unearned commission. Then it was
doubtful whether the dead-lame horse could go at all; but after a nail
had been extracted from his bleeding frog he was pronounced to be not
only fit, but eager for the journey. At this season of the year it is
customary in Cyprus to turn the horses and mules on to green barley
for three weeks, whence they arrive fat and well-seeming. This is why
all draught animals were then so hard to hire.

At length with many farewells we creaked off through the narrow
streets and difficult turnings of Limasol, to find ourselves presently
in the open country. Here among the springing corn I saw white thorns
in bloom, though I think that their species differs slightly from our
own; also many carob-trees, some of them in the warmer situations now
beginning to form their pods.

Trees, by the way, do not as a rule belong to the owner of the soil.
If you buy a piece of land in Cyprus, it will be to find that the
timber on it is the lawful possession of somebody else, with all
rights and easements thereto pertaining. These must be purchased
separately, a fact that makes the possession of property under the
prevailing Turkish law a somewhat complicated and vexatious affair.

I noticed that at the extremity of the boughs many of these carobs,
especially in the case of old specimens, were disfigured by bunches of
red and rusty leaves. On inquiring the reason Mr. Christian informed
me that the harm is due to the ravages of rats which live in the
hollow boles and gnaw the juicy bark of the young shoots. Sometimes
they destroy the entire tree, but the Cypriotes are too idle to kill
them out. They prefer to lose their crop. The goats too damage
everything that they can reach, and show extraordinary ingenuity in
their efforts to secure the food they love. Thus with my own eyes I
saw a couple of these intelligent animals reared up upon their
hind-legs, their fore-feet propped together in mid-air for mutual
support, their bearded heads outstretched to pluck the succulent
shoots above. The group thus formed would have furnished an admirable
subject for a sculptor, but I have never seen it represented in any
work of art, ancient or modern. Perhaps it is too difficult for easy
treatment, or it may be of rare occurrence. One of the methods by
which Cyprian peasants avenge injuries upon each other, is to attempt
to destroy the olive-trees of an offending neighbour by cutting the
bark with knives. Some of the olives which we passed upon this journey
were disfigured with curious wart-like growths upon their ancient
boles, which Mr. Christian informed me, as he believed, had been
produced by such acts of petty malice practised perhaps hundreds of
years ago. In these instances of course the trees had ultimately
recovered.

The country through which we passed was on the whole very desolate.
Although a good deal of the land seemed to be under cultivation of a
kind, we saw few villages. These, I suppose, lay hidden behind the
hills, but in truth the population is scant. Different indeed must it
have been in the days of the Roman occupation. Then there were enough
people in Cyprus to enable the Jews who had settled there to put two
hundred and forty thousand to the sword in the course of a single
revolt, that is, a hundred thousand more than the present population
of the island.

After we had driven for nearly five hours and beguiled the tedium of
the road by lunching in the carriage, we came to a half-way house or
hovel, called Chiro-Kitia, i.e. Kitia of the Pigs. Although it looked
somewhat dreary in the rain which fell from time to time, it was a
prettily situated place, hill-surrounded, fronting a bold brown
mountain which lay between it and the sea, and standing over a green
and fertile bottom with olive-gardens and fig-trees through which a
torrent brawled. The inn itself, if such it can be called, had a
little verandah, reached by external steps, half ladder and half
staircase. From this verandah we entered the guest-room, which was
whitewashed and scribbled over with writings in English, Turkish,
Greek, and French; with drawings also whereby long-departed travellers
had solaced the weary hours of their stay. This room was stone-paved
and furnished with a table, a bench, a bed, and some rush-bottomed
chairs. Here the mistress of the rest-house, the mother of several
pretty little girls, who were standing about in the mud ragged and
bootless, presently arrived with refreshments, a sort of cream cheese
that is eaten with sugar, and tiny cups of sweet Turkish coffee
accompanied by glasses of water with which to wash it down.

Mr. Christian asked me how old I thought this good woman might be. I
replied nearly sixty, and indeed she looked it. He said that she was
about twenty-six, and that he remembered her not many years ago as a
pretty girl. Since that time, however, she had presented the world
with an infant regularly once a year, and her present weary, worn-out
aspect was the result.

"You shouldn't have so many children," said Mr. Christian to her in
Greek.

"God sends them," she answered with a sad little smile.

This poor woman, with another of her familiar troubles close at hand,
was in the unhappy position of being separated from her husband, now
doing "time" under the care of Mr. Mavrogordato. She told us that he
had come into this misfortune on the false evidence of the keeper of a
rival rest-house some few hundred yards away; the only other dwelling
in the place, indeed. As to our house and the owner there was a sad,
and if true, a cruel tale of how its host, he of the jail, seeking to
better his fortunes had put up a mill upon a piece of land at the back
of the dwelling; how the rival had waited until the mill was erected
and then claimed the land, and various other oppressions and
distresses which resulted in assaults, false evidence, and for one of
them, a term of retirement. Mr. Christian told me that the story was
accurate in the main, and added that out of such quarrels as these
come most of the frequent Cyprian murders. It is quite likely that the
injured man will emerge from jail only to lie up behind a wall with a
loaded gun, thence in due course to return to the care of Mr.
Mavrogordato steeped in the shadow of a graver charge.

The scene from the verandah, at least while it rained, was not much
more cheerful than the story of our hostess. To the right lay a little
patch of garden with nothing particular growing in it, surrounded by
an untidy fence of dead thorns. Behind this were filthy sheds and
stables, in one of which kneeled half-a-dozen angry-looking camels,
great brown heaps, with legs doubled under them, showing their ugly
hock-joints. The saddles were on their backs but the loads lay beside
them, and resting against these reposed their drivers, smoking;
motley-garbed men with coloured head-dresses, half-cap, half-turban,
who stared at the wretched weather in silence. In front of the house a
pair of geese were waddling in the mud, while a half-starved cat
crouched against the wall and mewed incessantly. Presently we had a
little welcome excitement, for along the road came a Turk mounted on a
donkey. He was followed by three wives also mounted on donkeys, one or
two of them bearing infants, and shrouded head to foot from the vulgar
gaze of the infidel, in /yashmaks/ and white robes that in such chilly
weather must be somewhat cheerless wear. They passed chattering and
arguing, their poor beasts piled up behind the saddles with what
looked like, and I believe were, feather-beds, for whatever else these
people leave behind, they like to take their mattresses. Then the
prospect was empty again save for the groaning camels, the geese, the
thin cat, and the pretty little ragged girls who stood about and
stared at nothing.

Wearying of these delights after an hour and a half or so, as the rain
had stopped at length, I went for a walk along the edge of the stream
which looked as though trout would flourish there, did it not dry up
in summer. Here, growing among the grasses I found several beautiful
flowers, ranunculi, anemones, and others that were strange to me. Also
I noted our English friends, chaffinches and sparrows, looking exactly
as they do at home, only somewhat paler, as is the case with almost
every other bird I saw. I suppose that the hot sun bleaches them. One
sparrow that I saw flying about was pure white, and the larks of which
there are two varieties, crested and common, are almost dust-coloured.
By the way these larks never soar like their English cousins.

At length the poor screws being rested, or a little less tired, we
resumed our journey travelling for some distance through hills. What a
pity it is that it does not please the War Office to make Cyprus a
half-way house for troops on their road to India, where they might
grow accustomed to a warm climate without running any particular risk
to health. Also there would be other advantages. The great lesson of
the present war in Africa is the value of mounted infantry who can
shoot, think for themselves, and ride over rough country. What a
training-ground Cyprus would afford to such troops as these. There are
horses and perhaps the best mules in the world in plenty; the country
is wild and mountainous, and nothing would be hurt in manoeuvring men.
Moreover every conceivable physical difficulty can be found here and
dealt with for practice as occasion may require. There is heat, there
is cold, there are droughts and rains, flooded torrents to be bridged
and precipices to be climbed; forests to take cover in and plains to
scout over; besides many more advantages such as would appeal to a
commander anxious to educate his army to the art of war in rough
countries.

Why then does not the Government always keep a garrison of say five or
ten thousand mounted men manoeuvring through the length and breadth of
Cyprus? This would assist the island and produce a force that ought to
be absolutely invaluable in time of war. Also, the place being so
cheap, the cost would be moderate. I give the suggestion for what it
is worth.

It was past nine at night when at last we crawled into Larnaca, the
journey having taken three hours longer than it should have done owing
to the weakness of our miserable horses. Next morning we started for
Acheritou near to Famagusta, where we were to be the guests of Messrs.
Christian, who are now completing their contract for the great
drainage works and reservoirs which have been undertaken by the
Government of Cyprus with money advanced by the British Treasury. Of
these I shall have something to say in their place.

Leaving Larnaca in a high wind, for the first few miles we passed
through a very grey and desolate part of the island, having the sea on
our right and flat swampy lands upon our left. Striking inland we
halted for a few minutes to look at a curious stone tower of the
Lusignan period, in appearance not unlike a small Colossi, which
raises its frowning walls among the dirty mud dwellings of a
dilapidated, poverty-stricken, Turkish village. There is nothing
remarkable about the building which is now tenanted only by goats and
pigeons, except its age. Doubtless it was once the stronghold of some
petty noble, built for refuge in times of danger. Afterwards we came
to a place, Pergamos, where stood some deserted-looking huts, out of
one of which ran a large rough-haired dog.

"That dog is all that is left of the Dukobortzi," was Mr. Christian's
cryptic remark.

I inquired who or what the Dukobortzi might be and learned that they
are a sect of vegetarian Quakers from the Caucasus distinguished from
their countrymen, and indeed the rest of mankind, by various
peculiarities. Thus they have no marriage ceremony, all their earnings
go into a common fund, and whole families of them sleep in a single
room. One of the chief articles of their faith, however, is a horror
of killing. This it was that brought them into conflict with the
Russian Government, who persecuted them mercilessly because, being men
of peace, they refused to serve in the army. In the end the English
Society of Friends exported them, settling two thousand or so in
Cyprus and another three thousand in Canada. A place less suited to
this purpose than Pergamos could scarcely be found in the whole
island. To begin with the Dukobortzi are vegetarians, and the land
being here unirrigated will only grow vegetables for about half the
year. Also the climate of the locality, which is very hot, was not at
all congenial to emigrants from the Caucasus with a perfect passion
for overcrowding at night. So the poor people sickened rapidly and a
considerable number died. Some of them went to labour at the
irrigation works, but were quite unable to bear the sun. Then they
tried working at night and resting during the heat, but still it did
not agree with them. In the end they were helped to join their
co-religionists in Canada, and now all that remains of them is the
rough-haired Russian dog, which must feel very lonely. They were it
seems in most respects an estimable people, gentle and kindly, but
clearly this was no Promised Land for them.

Cyprus seems to be a favourite dumping-ground for philanthropists who
wish to better communities that cannot flourish elsewhere. I remember
that when I was last in the island some well-intentioned persons had
forwarded thither a motley assortment of Whitechapel Jews, who were
expected to turn their old hats into shovels and become raisers of
agricultural produce upon lands that had been provided for the
purpose. Needless to say they entirely refused to cultivate the said
lands. The unfortunate Commissioner of the district had been placed in
charge of them and never shall I forget his tale of woe. He furnished
them with implements, but they would not plough; with seeds, but they
declined to sow. As the charitable society in England was endowing
them with sixpence a head per diem, and food is cheap in Cyprus,
things went on thus until the fund dried up. Then the Commissioner
descended full of wrath and interviewed the head of the settlement,
who met him, as he told me, clad in a tall black hat and adorned with
lavender kid gloves. Much argument followed, till at last the
exasperated Commissioner exclaimed--

"Well, you must either work or starve. Will you work?"

The kid-gloved representative shook his head and murmured, "No."

"Will you starve?" asked the Commissioner.

Again the answer was a gentle but decided "No."

"Then what the devil will you do?" shouted the enraged official.

"We will telegraph to the Lord Mayor of London," replied the
representative suavely. "In fact, sir, /we have already telegraphed/."

The end of the matter was that the members of the community dispersed
to the coasts of Syria, where, when last heard of, they were
understood to be doing well in more congenial lines. The Whitechapel
Jew has no agricultural leanings. He prefers to till some richer
field.

Leaving Pergamos we crossed an enormous stony plain that is named
after it. This tract of country, there is no doubt, would grow certain
classes of timber very well, and within twenty years of its planting,
produce a large revenue. Unfortunately, however, the Government has no
money to devote to the experiment, and private capital is wanting.

Next we came to the pretty village of Kouklia and passed the recently
finished dam enclosing an area of two square miles, now for the first
time filling up with water. Then we began to travel round the great
basin of the Acheritou reservoir, which when finished is to include
forty square miles, most of which will be under water during the
winter season. It is destined to irrigate the lower part of the
Messaoria plain, which comprises league upon league of some of the
most fertile soil in the world. On our way we came to a stony pass in
the neck of two small hills, where I noticed that every rock was
scored with rude crosses. It appears that some years ago frequent
complaints were received by the ecclesiastical authorities to the
effect that this place was badly and persistently haunted, the ghosts
being of a violent and aggressive order, given to sallying forth at
night with uncanny shouts and leapings, to the great disturbance of
peaceable travellers on the highway. Feeling that this thing must be
dealt with, every available priest and bishop assembled, and cursed
and exorcised those ghosts by all lawful and efficient means; stamping
them morally flat and abolishing them so that from that day to this
not one of them has been heard or seen. To make their triumph sure and
lasting the holy men cut and painted these crosses upon the rock, with
the result that no real "troll" of dubious origin can now stop there
for a moment.

At length we saw the house that the Messrs. Christian have built to
live in while the works are in progress. It is splendidly placed upon
a bluff overlooking the great plain, and from a distance, I know not
why, has the appearance of a small ruined temple. Very glad were we to
reach it about three o'clock in the afternoon, and partake of a lamb
roasted whole in the Cyprian fashion, with other luxuries.

Just below this house start the six miles of massive dam that runs
across the plain to form the retaining wall of the vast body of water
which is to be held up. As yet this water is allowed to escape, but
next winter, when the dam is completed, it will be saved and let out
for purposes of irrigation. There is nothing new in the world. In the
course of the building of the dam were discovered the remains of one
more ancient, also running across the plain, but enclosing a smaller
area; indeed its sluice is to be pressed into the service of the
present generation. I examined it, and came to the conclusion that the
masonry is of the Roman period. Mr. J. H. Medlicott of the Indian
Irrigation Department, the very able engineer who has designed these
great works and carried them out so successfully, is however of
opinion that it is Venetian. Probably he is right. This at least is
clear, that people in days long dead could plan and execute such
enterprises as well as we do to-day. Roman or Venetian, the stone-work
is admirably laid and bound together with some of the hardest and best
cement that ever I saw.

The Messrs. Christian, who have contracted to complete this
undertaking, employ about three thousand men and women, mostly on a
system of piece-work. In the evening I walked along the great dam and
saw them labouring like ants there and in the trenches which are to
distribute the water. They were then engaged in facing the dam with
stone which is fitted together but not mortared, carrying up great
blocks upon their backs and laying them in place under the direction
of overseers. At first the provision of this facing stone was
difficult and expensive, as the stuff had to be carted six or seven
miles; indeed its cost threatened to swallow up most of the
contractors' profits. Then it was, that within half a mile of the
place where the material was needed, very luckily Mr. Charles
Christian in the course of an evening walk discovered an outcrop of
excellent stone, soft to work but with the property of hardening in
water. The cutters get it out by a simple but effective system, no
doubt that which has been followed by their ancestors for thousands of
years. A skilled man can loosen a great number of suitable blocks in a
day, apparently with ease. When I tried it, however, I found the task
somewhat beyond me.

From the strong resemblance of the material I believe that this was
the very stone used by the builders of the ancient dam below the
house. Doubtless they discovered the quarry as Mr. Christian did,
although oddly enough the natives who had lived in the neighbourhood
all their lives, declared that nothing of the sort existed for miles
around. It was the old case of eyes and no eyes.

I said some pages back that living in Cyprus is cheap, and of this
here I had an instance. The house put up by Messrs. Christian for
their convenience while directing the works is spacious, two-storeyed,
and capitally built of stone, with, if I remember right, a kind of mud
roof laid upon rafters covered with split cane mats. Properly made and
attended to, such roofs last for years. The whole cost of the
building, which was quite large enough to accommodate with comfort
seven or eight people and servants, was less than £300, including the
large verandahs. In England it would cost at the very least a
thousand, and probably a great deal more.



                              CHAPTER XI

                              FAMAGUSTA

That night a great gale blew roaring round the house as though we had
been in Coll, or at Kessingland, instead of southern Cyprus. In the
morning the wind had dropped but the sky was heavy with
ominous-looking rain-clouds floating here and there in the blue deeps.
After breakfast we mounted the ponies that had been provided for us, a
blessed change from the familiar mule, and set out to explore the
Messaoria plain and the Kouklia dam. This magnificent plain, which
varies in breadth from ten to twenty miles, runs practically the whole
length of the body of the island from Famagusta on the east to Morphu
on the west, that is, a distance of about fifty-five miles. Once it
was a dense forest, now it is open level country cultivated here and
there, but for the most part barren. On either side of it, north and
south, stretch the two ranges of Cyprian mountains, that of Kyrenia
and that of Trooidos, and it is the decomposed, basic-igneous rock
brought down from these mountains in the winter-floods by the river
Pidias and other torrents that form the soil of the plain.

What a soil it is! Deep brown in colour, of an unknown thickness--it
has been proved to fifty feet--and I suppose as rich and productive as
any in the world. Hitherto, or at any rate since the Venetian days,
two natural accidents however have made it comparatively valueless,
that of drought and that of flooding. The greater part of this end of
the plain which I am now describing, for instance, has been a swamp in
winter and an arid wilderness in summer. It is to remedy this state of
things that the irrigation dams have been constructed, to hold up the
waters in winter and pour their life-giving streams forth again in
summer.

In the future all of this vast area of land, or thousands of acres of
it that will fall under their influence, ought to produce the most
enormous crops. On this point I see only one fear; upon the top
surface of the soil, and in places going a foot or two into it, are
little veins of white salty substance, deposited, I suppose, from the
floods. These may make the surface earth sour and, until they are
evaporated, affect the health of crops. I know that the same thing
happens in Coll in the Hebrides, where new-drained lands have to be
treated, I think with lime, in order to sweeten them. It is my belief
that here, however, one or two deep ploughings and the exposure of the
earth to the scorching heat of a Cyprian summer would do this work
effectively. I have suggested to Mr. Christian that he should cut out
a block, or blocks of soil to the depth of three feet, enclose them as
they stand in boxes with the natural vegetation growing on the top,
and ship them to me. This he has promised to do, and I shall then
submit them for analysis to the chemists of the Royal Agricultural
Society, to which I belong, who will doubtless be able to advise as to
the nature and power of the salts, and to say what method should be
adopted to be rid of them.

Now when flooding is prevented and water will be available for
irrigation, it seems to me that upon the Messaoria, if anywhere on the
earth, farming ought to pay. I can imagine no more interesting and, as
I believe, profitable experiment, than to take up let us say five
thousand acres of this area upon easy terms such as no doubt the
Government would grant, paying its price for example by a certain
tithe of the profit of the produce terminable in a certain number of
years. This land might then be farmed by the process, simple, where
labour is so cheap, of making raised roadways to divide it into blocks
with an irrigation ditch at the foot of each, along which roadways a
pair of steam ploughs could travel, cultivating the expanse between.

Consider the advantages. An inexhaustible soil which the silt from the
irrigation water would go far towards manuring, if indeed, with an
occasional fallow, other manure is necessary. Fields that can,
whenever needful, be absolutely cleansed of weeds and rubbish by
ploughing and laying them dry for a few months in the fierce summer
sun which kills every root and seed. A great variety of possible crops
from cotton down, whereof very often two could be taken in succession
in a single season. For instance wheat or barley to be harvested about
May, followed by maize to be harvested in autumn. A port, Famagusta,
within seven or eight miles, and a splendid market for most products
at Port Said, and for the barley in England, where it is much in
request among brewers on account of its saccharine and golden
brightness. A district where the ordinary cattle and horse sicknesses
seem to be unknown except for anthrax, which can be avoided with
common care; where, moreover, oxen and sheep fatten marvellously upon
grasses, lucerne, and the carob beans of the country, and meet with a
ready sale at good prices in Egypt. Such are some of the most obvious
merits of this neglected plain; added to which must be the ample
supply of very inexpensive and fairly intelligent labour.

Of course there are drawbacks also, or the place would be a paradise.
To begin with it is very hot in summer, when Europeans must be careful
about exposing themselves to the sun, although this heat is generally
tempered by the wind blowing up from the sea which is near at hand.
Next the Messaoria plain has a reputation for fever. Personally I
believe this to be exaggerated, as is shown by the fact that among the
three thousand men, women, and children employed by the Messrs.
Christian, the number of casualties from sickness has been very small
indeed, and this although they frequently sleep in the trenches of
newly-turned earth at all seasons of the year. The doctor, an
Armenian, who from his appearance and speech I took to be a Scotchman,
and a gentleman who seemed to understand his business very thoroughly,
told me however that occasionally they had cases, resulting for the
most part from the use of the swamp water, of a horrible and sometimes
fatal ailment which he called "marbled" fever. This sickness is, I
believe, known by the same name in parts of Central and South America.
Sufferers from it feel icy cold with an exterior temperature that
sinks a good deal below normal, whereas the interior temperature is
105° or 106°. The symptoms are those of congestion, I think of the
blood-vessels, and indeed congestion is found on necropsy. Also there
are other fevers, but the doctor said that they were not common and
that the general health was good.

For a long while before their house was built the Messrs. Christian,
Mr. Medlicott, and their various English assistants lived as best they
could in native huts or tents. Yet I think I am right in saying that
during the two years or so while the works have been in progress, none
of them have suffered from serious illness, although the nature of
their occupation prevented them from refuging from the summer heat for
the accustomed three months on Trooidos. This fact speaks for itself,
and on the whole I incline to the belief that with ordinary care and
precautions, healthy residences and pure water--boiled for
preference--adult Europeans of temperate habits would have little to
fear from the climate of the Messaoria plain. There is, however, a
danger I have mentioned before which cannot always be avoided, that of
a soaking followed by a chill, producing fever. This must be risked.
After all it is not uncommon in hot countries.

Another drawback is that to prove successful such farming must be
under absolutely honest and intelligent supervision. The casual
company manager despatched from England would in eight cases out of
ten bring it to financial grief. The farmer should live on the spot,
giving his own constant care to every operation. Otherwise those
interested in the venture would be certain to hear from time to time
that this or that crop had failed. What they would not hear is that
the overseer had neglected to irrigate the cotton, or whatever the
crop might be, and thus destroyed the prospects for the year, because
he was away on a holiday at Nicosia, or perchance had taken a trip to
Egypt, leaving a native in charge. But this necessity for the eye of
the owner or faithful steward holds good of every business in all
parts of the world. "The farmer's foot is the best manure" runs the
old agricultural saw.

To sum the matter up, although, being a farmer and understanding
something of the question, I should like to dwell upon it at greater
length, I can only say that if I were a young man, owning, or with the
command of £10,000 capital, nothing would please me better than to
make such an experiment upon the irrigable portion of the Messaoria,
near to the Kouklia dam for choice. I believe that, given health and
strength, I should return thence in fifteen years or so with no need
to farm anything except the fortune I had acquired.

Indeed it is sad to see so much wealth, agricultural and other, lying
ungarnered in Cyprus while millions of pounds of English capital, as
many of us know to our cost, are squandered in specious, wild-cat
schemes at the very ends of the earth. Were the island in the heart of
West Africa or China, for instance, companies would be formed to
exploit it, and in due course lose their money and the lives of their
managers. But as it is only a British possession close at hand nobody
will trouble.

The great cry of Cyprus is for capital. Whatever may be the fate of
the present copper-mining venture at Lymni, there is no doubt that
with enough money the old lode could be discovered. The same thing
applies to the other copper areas: the ancients could not mine deep,
the metal must be there, and, now as of old, to the value of sums
uncountable; yet nobody will even put down a bore-hole to look for the
deposits. In conversation I ventured to suggest to the Governor, Sir
William Haynes-Smith, that the Government should do this on their own
account, since if once they proved the mines they could make handsome
terms with the companies which would come forward to work them. The
answer was, "We have no money, the Turkish tribute takes all our
money."

This is true. Every year the British taxpayer is informed that a grant
of £30,000 has been made in aid of the revenues of Cyprus. He is not
informed that never a penny of that £30,000 comes to Cyprus; that, on
the contrary, Cyprus has a surplus of revenue over expenditure, even
in its present starved condition, of more than £60,000 a year. This
£60,000 is taken, nominally, towards paying the tribute of £93,800 per
annum, promised to the Turk when we took over the island. The £30,000
annually granted by Parliament, ostensibly in aid of the revenues of
Cyprus, goes to make up the balance which cannot be wrung from the
island. But--and here is the point--that money is never seen at
Constantinople. It stops in the British Treasury. In 1855, a loan of I
forget how much, raised by Turkey, was jointly guaranteed by France
and England. Needless to say, under these circumstances Turkey does
not trouble to pay the bondholders their interest. Neither does France
pay as a joint-guarantor, why I know not, but probably because we are
afraid to ask her. So John Bull pays. What is more, he was tricked.
The revenue received by the Porte from Cyprus was assessed at double
its actual amount. Also he pays four per cent., whereas at the present
rates of money, on the credit of the British Empire, the loan could
easily be converted to one or two and a half or three per cent. If
this were done, practically it would ease Cyprus of its tribute and
make it a most prosperous colony. But to do it does not please the
Treasury--probably it would involve a good deal of trouble. So year by
year we hear of a grant of £30,000 in aid of the revenues of a
possession which has an annual surplus of £60,000, that might with
assistance and forethought, as I believe firmly, within a single
generation be multiplied into a surplus of £600,000. Further, the
Turkish tribute might be capitalised; indeed to do our Government
justice, I believe that efforts, hitherto unsuccessful, have been made
in that direction. But as yet nothing happens.

Another possible source of wealth in Cyprus, as I suggested with
reference to the Pergamos plain, lies in the judicious planting of
valuable timbers which, as the history of the island shows, would grow
here like weeds upon land that is practically useless for other
purposes. I must instance one more, that of the wine industry. That
Cyprus produced excellent vintages in the past is proved by
history--the Ptolemies all got tipsy on them, especially, if I
remember right, Ptolemy Auletes, Ptolemy the Piper. To this day
indeed, although it is so ill prepared, the wine is good. Mavro is a
strong, black, rather rough wine, but I prefer the lighter, white
variety which we drank at Limasol. Then there is the vintage called
Commanderia, famous in the Crusading times and produced upon certain
mountains only. This is of the Madeira class, nutty in flavour and
very sweet, more of a liqueur than anything else. Indeed when the
Madeira vines were killed out by disease, that island was replanted, I
believe, from the Commanderia stock, the original vines, it was said,
having come from Cyprus. At Kyrenia, our kind host, Mr. Tyzer, the
judge, gave us some Commandera to drink which an old woman had brought
round in a wine-skin--she only made a few gallons from a patch of
vines--and sold to him at a price of about twopence a bottle. To my
fancy it was a wonderful wine, but perhaps I am no judge of such
matters. Other specimens which I tasted struck me as heady and cloying
to the palate. This is certain, however, that if the cultivation was
carried out upon a proper system, a vintage could be produced that
now, as of old, would command a high price. Here again is room for
enterprise and capital.

To return to our expedition. We rode for miles across the great plain
with the beautiful peaks of the mountains showing in bold outline
against the sky to our right. All the way we followed wide dykes in
course of being delved out of the rich soil to carry the waters that
are to be stored behind the dam. In these dykes hundreds of Cypriotes
were at work, most of them Christians, but some, if I remember right,
Turkish. Men and women labour together here by the piece. Thus one
might see a man and his wife, his sons and daughters, engaged in
scooping out their allotted task, which had been already carefully
measured and pegged. They all seemed very good-humoured and much chaff
went on between them and their employer, Mr. Charles Christian,
because of the non-arrival of the water-cart upon which they rely for
refreshment at their thirsty toil. They were dying of drought, they
declared, and he would have to send to bury them, whereupon he replied
that it was for the good of their health to make them thinner, and so
forth.

At length following the endless dykes and observing many things by the
way, such as the character of the grasses, we came to the completed
Kouklia dam, a splendid work, on the further side of which the waters
are now gathering for the first time. It is curious to see how soon
the wild duck have found out this new and excellent home, where whole
flocks of these beautiful birds now swim peacefully, keeping
themselves, however, well out of gunshot. Thence we turned homeward
across the wide dreary plain that as I hope within the next ten years
will be rich with luxuriant crops. Indeed this undertaking has already
so greatly advantaged the peasants that, as I hear since I left the
island, after their simple fashion they put up prayers in the churches
imploring that every blessing may fall upon the heads of Messrs.
Charles and Percy Christian. They ought also to pray for Mr.
Chamberlain, who might, on occasion, be glad of such spiritual
assistance. Whatever may be said against that statesman, this at least
is true; he is the best Colonial Minister that we have had for many a
long year. A business man himself, he understands more or less, and to
a certain extent can sympathise with, the needs and aspirations of the
undeveloped countries in his charge. To him and no one else it is due
that the spell of consistent neglect has been broken and the small sum
of £60,000 necessary for the carrying out of these works has been
advanced to Cyprus.

On our return we were overtaken by a heavy thunder rain and soaked.
Unfortunately, although the house was quite close to us, we could not
gallop home since the downpour made the clay soil so slippery that to
do so would have been to risk a fall. Therefore we were obliged to
walk our horses and get wet. As a change was at hand, however, in this
instance the ducking did not matter.

Towards evening we started on a sporting expedition, so at last the
gun that I rescued from the Customs with such trouble was of use. We
had hoped for some woodcock-shooting among the scrub on the hillsides,
but it was so late in the season that enough birds were not left to
make it worth while to go after them. The duck remained, however, and
to these we devoted our attention.

The place where we were to station ourselves was three or four miles
away, a ridge of rock between two lakes over which the wild-fowl
flight at sunset. I was asked if I would walk or ride, and gaily
declared in favour of walking. Before I got back I was sorry for my
choice. We waded through swamps, we scrambled along an ancient
causeway built of blocks of stone, many of them missing, and over a
slope of rough ground to the appointed ridge where we took up our
posts, four of us, at a distance of about two hundred yards from each
other. It was a lonely and beautiful spot, set in the bow of the hills
like the section of an amphitheatre, its vast open circus lying behind
us. In front, looking towards the sea and another lake whence the duck
were to come, lay a desert plain covered with low scrub across which
the fresh wind whistled. Above was a stormy heaven, splendid to look
at but not favourable for fowl-shooting, since the heavy clouds
blotted out the light. What is wanted on these occasions is a clear
sky marked with light fleecy clouds, for against these it is easy to
see the birds as they sweep towards the guns.

I took my place, sitting on one rock and laying my cartridges ready
upon another over which my head projected, wrapping myself up also in
a coat which I had brought with me, for now the air felt very damp and
cold, especially after our arduous trudge. For a long while nothing
happened and I was left in the midst of the intense silence to examine
the drear scenery, the ancient rocks worn and hollowed by aeons of
weather, and the flowers and grasses which grew about me. The sun set,
the sky darkened and darkened, the black masses of clouds seemed to
dominate the earth. At last I heard a sound of whistling wings and
about a hundred yards to my right I saw a flight of duck, their long
necks extended, shoot past me like arrows and vanish. Then came
another flight sixty yards off, or more, at which I ventured a useless
shot that echoed strangely along the stony ridge. Now the night fell
rapidly like something tangible. One little lot of fowl passed in
front of me within forty yards, and of these I managed to see and bag
the last, which fell with a heavy thud fifty yards or more from where
it had died in air. After this it was hopeless; the duck had been
disturbed too late by the beaters sent to flush them in the pass
towards the sea.

On they came in thousands and tens of thousands; the air was full of
the rush of their wings, and the earth echoed with their different
cries--the deep note of geese, the unearthly call of curlew, and the
whistling pipe of teal. Sometimes they seemed to pass so close to me
that they nearly struck my head, but against the black clouds nothing
was visible except a brown line that vanished almost before it was
seen. I fired wildly and once or twice heard the thud of a falling
bird far behind, but these I never retrieved. As sport our expedition
was a failure; moonlight and a clear sky were needed, both of which
were absent. But in its wildness, in the sense of infinite, winged
life rushing past us in the last view of that desolate country as the
darkness embraced it, it was a perfect and unique experience. I am old
enough to be no longer very anxious for a bag, therefore I enjoyed
that evening's expedition with its one resulting widgeon, more than
many a day's pheasant-shooting when the slain, carefully raised for
the occasion, might be counted by hundreds.

At length it grew pitch dark, so that it was difficult for us to find
each other in the gloom. Still more difficult was our homeward
journey, steering by the appropriate light of Venus which glowed
before us, lying low upon the sky. First came the causeway. This relic
of antiquity which shows how careful its inhabitants, now so long
dead, once were about their roads in Cyprus, is some eight feet wide
and built of large blocks of stone. On either side of it lie the
waters of the swamp, several feet deep in places. Much of this massive
raised roadway has been destroyed by floods or other accidents of
time, so that here and there one must leap from block to block or
subside into the pools between. Now "Stepping-Stones by Starlight"
would make a good title for a novel but are in fact an awkward path,
and very glad was I when with the assistance of a Cypriote, who seemed
to be able to see in the dark, I had negotiated the last of them.
After these stepping-stones we advanced over a mile or two of greasy
mud about six inches deep. Then came some ploughed patches of ground
with ditches in them, and another long stretch of mud, this time
covered with water. Struggling to its edge we found ourselves on a
path strewn with boulders, and fell down in deep but invisible ruts.
Next followed a stroll through a large patch of standing barley which
was reeking wet and reached almost to our middles, where we were
exposed to the attentions of the "skilos" or homeless dogs, which in
Cyprus are such a nuisance. At last, however, about nine o'clock we
saw the welcome lights of home. I confess that I was glad to reach its
shelter, thoroughly tired out as I was and absolutely wringing wet
with perspiration, a fruit of the labours of that interminable walk.
Little expeditions of this sort teach us that we are not so young as
once we were. Still I enjoyed our abortive duck-hunt.

My nephew, fired by the sight or rather the sound of more wild-fowl
than he had ever dreamt of, announced his intention of being back at
the place by the first streak of dawn to catch the birds as they
passed from the marshes out to sea. I congratulated him upon his
superb energy, but declined to share the adventure, foreseeing in the
depths of my experience as in a magic crystal exactly what would
happen. It did happen. About an hour after we had finished breakfast
on the following morning, two hot and weary young men appeared
carrying guns and cartridges, but nothing else. They had risen a
little too late, the duck were up before them and they reached the
distant ridge just in time to see the last flock of geese vanishing
seaward.

The rains had departed for the present and the day was lovely, with so
clear an air that every little peak and pinnacle of the mountains
seemed close at hand. It was with great regret that on so fair a
morning we bade farewell to our hosts and started for Famagusta. I
should have liked to stay longer at Acheritou. The place has many
charms, not the least of which is its solitude.

The tower, where according to ancient tradition Desdemona was actually
stifled by Othello, is an odd place for picnics, yet thither on our
arrival we were escorted through the ancient gates of Famagusta.
Indeed the feast was spread exactly where the poor victim lived and
died, that is, if ever she existed beyond the echoes of romance.

In the Venetian days Famagusta, which is said to be built upon the
site of the ancient Arsinoë, was a great commercial port. Now its
harbour is choked and, principally because of the heat within the
walls, such population as remains to the place lives about a mile
away, in a new town called Varoshia. How am I to describe this
beautiful mediaeval monument! An attempt to set out its details would
fill chapters, so I must leave them to the fancy of the reader. The
whole place is a ruin. Everywhere are the gaunt skeletons of churches,
the foundation walls of long-fallen houses, and around, grim, solid,
solemn, the vast circle of the rich-hued fortifications. What
buildings are here! Millions of square yards of them, almost every
stone, except where the Turks have cobbled, still bearing its Venetian
mason's mark. Walls thirty feet thick; great citadels; sally ports,
underground foundries still black with the smoke of Venetian smithies;
fragments of broken armour lying about in the ancient ash-heaps;
water-gates, ravelins, subterranean magazines; gun embrasures,
straight and enfilading; enormous gathering-halls now used as
grain-stores; tortuous, arched vaults of splendid masonry, the solid
roof-stones cut upon the bend; piers running out to sea commanding the
harbour mouth; every defence and work known to mediaeval warlike art.
Then round them all, hewn in places through the solid rock, the mighty
ditch sixty feet or more in depth. It was an impregnable stronghold
this Famagusta, and in the end it fell to the power of the greatest of
all generals, Hunger, and not through the batterings of Mustafa the
Moslem, known as the Destroyer, and his vast army.

The Turk came and conquered, how I will describe presently, and from
that hour the glory of Famagusta departed. To begin with, no Christian
was allowed to live within the gates. Even the visitor of distinction
must not ride or drive there, but walk humbly as became a
representative of a conquered faith. "Where the Turk sets his foot,
there the grass will not grow," but here the saying is reversed, the
grass grows everywhere amid the empty walls. Indeed barley is sown
where men dwelt in thousands, and the Christian churches, some of
them, were turned into baths for the comfort of the Mussulman, while
the rest rotted into ruin. One of the three hundred and sixty-five of
these ruined fanes--it is said that there were this number--that of
St. Peter and St. Paul, a very noble and beautiful building, is now a
Government grain-store, a desecration which I do not think ought to be
allowed under the rule of England.

The grand Gothic cathedral wherein lie the bones of many knights and
noted men of the Lusignan period, whose wealth, intelligence, and
labour reared it up, is now a mosque. I am not learned enough to
describe its architecture in detail, this should be left to those who
understand such matters. I can only say that it is lovely. In the
front are three pointed, recessed arches, the centre pierced by the
doorway surmounted with exquisite carved work. Above are three windows
in similar style, all of them now walled up, and above them again two
ruined towers. Fixed on to one of these, that to the left of the
spectator as he faces the building, is a wretched and incongruous
Moslem minaret, a veritable pepper-pot. Within the place is bare and
empty, with here and there a carpet, or a tawdry pulpit.

Is it right, I ask, now that the country is again in the hands of a
Christian power, that this ancient shrine dedicated in the beginning
to the God we worship, should be left in the hands of the followers of
Mahommed? I say, and the remark applies also to the cathedral at
Nicosia, that in my humble judgment this is wrong. A matter of policy,
that is the answer. But has policy no limits? Would it be so very hard
and dangerous for this great empire to say to those Turks who are now
its subjects: "This is a Christian place which your fathers snatched
with every circumstance of atrocity and violence from Christians. Take
your shrines elsewhere. The land is wide and you are at liberty to set
your altars where you will." It is true that they might answer: "Does
it lie in your mouth to protest when you turn other buildings equally
sacred in your eyes into grain-stores, and clerks sit upon their
altars to take count?"

For generations the Turks have used Famagusta as a quarry, exporting
most of the stone in its old buildings to Egypt. Now, it is commonly
said, our Government proposes to follow their evil example, since the
present railway and harbour scheme involves the destruction of the
beautiful curtain-wall abutting on the sea and the use of the material
it contains in the projected works. I have been assured by a competent
engineer and others who can judge, that such an act of vandalism is
absolutely unnecessary; that this monstrous thing will be done, if it
is done, principally for the sake of the shaped stone that lies to
hand. Will nobody stop it? If the Colonial Office refuses to
intervene, where are the Company of Antiquaries and where is Public
Opinion? Where too is the Society for the Preservation of Ancient
Monuments?

Famagusta is one of the most perfect specimens of mediaeval
fortification left in the world. It can never be reproduced or reborn,
since the time that bred it is dead. Now in our enlightened age, when
we know the value of such relics, are the remains of the old city to
be wantonly destroyed before our eyes? I trust that those in authority
may answer with an emphatic "No."

In itself the scheme for clearing out the ancient harbour and making
of Famagusta a port connected by railway with Nicosia is good. But the
haven thus reconstructed, although old Sir John Mandeville, more
regardless of the truth than usual even, declares that it was one of
the first harbours of the sea in the world,[*] can never be of great
importance or competent to shelter liners and men-of-war. Also I
imagine that it will be incapable of defence except by sea-power. Now
at Limasol it is different. There, owing to the natural configuration
of the shore, a harbour where fleets might ride could be made with two
entrances far apart, and having seven or eight miles of high land
between it and the ocean, so that in practice nothing could touch the
vessels that lay within. The necessary dredging would of course cost a
good deal, although the bottom to be acted upon is soft and kindly.
Perhaps the total expenditure might mount up to a million and a half,
or even two millions, the price of a few battle-ships. Battle-ships
are superseded in a score of years; the harbour, with proper care,
would remain for centuries. We need such a place in this part of the
Mediterranean. Is not the question worth the serious care of the
Admiralty and the nation?

[*] In the same passage this king of travellers--and their
    tales--tells us that in Cyprus they "hunt with papyons," which are
    "somewhat larger than lions." The "papyons" are not quite
    imaginary, since cheetahs were used for sporting purposes in
    mediaeval Cyprus. When Sir John goes on to add, however, that the
    inhabitants of Cyprus in search of coolness "make trenches in the
    earth about in the halls, deep to the knee, and pave them and when
    they will eat they go therein and sit there," we wonder if he was
    well informed. The preceding passage also, which unhappily cannot
    be quoted, makes us marvel even more.



                             CHAPTER XII

                        THE SIEGE AND SALAMIS

I could see but few changes in Famagusta since I visited it fourteen
years ago. Trees have grown up round the tombs where the execrable and
bloody Mustafa and some of his generals lie buried; also the
Commissioner, Mr. Travers, has planted other trees in portions of the
moat where they do not flourish very well owing to the stony nature of
the subsoil. Moreover, a large fig-tree which I remember growing in
the said moat has vanished--I recall that I myself found a Cyprian
woman engaged in trying to cut it down, and frightened her away.
Probably when we had departed, she returned and completed the task.
Lastly, when I was here before the iron cannon-balls fired into the
city by the Turks three centuries since, still lay strewn about the
place as they had fallen. Now they have been collected into heaps, or
vanished in this way or in that. Otherwise all is the same, except
that Time has thrust his finger a little deeper into the crevices of
the ruined buildings.

What a tragedy was the siege of Famagusta! Probably few of my readers,
and of the British public at large not one in every hundred thousand,
have even heard of that event. Yet if it happened to-day the whole
world would ring of its horror and its fame. The Boer war that at
present fills the newspapers and the mouths of men has, to this day of
writing, cost us at the outside six thousand dead. At the siege of
Famagusta, taking no account of those in the city, if I remember right
for I quote from memory, more than forty thousand of the attacking
force alone perished beneath the walls.

This in brief was the tale as it is told by Fra Angelo Calepio of
Cyprus, an eye-witness and a doctor in theology of the order of
Preachers, and others. In the year 1570, according to Fra Angelo, the
Sultan Selim was persuaded by his head /mufti/ to undertake the
enterprise of the conquest of Cyprus from the Venetians; "avarice,
lust of fame, difference of religion, diabolic suggestion, divine
permission, an unbounded appetite for new territory to be added to the
Ottoman dominion, these were the remote causes for the conspiracy
against Cyprus. A nearer cause was the wish of Selim, the Emperor of
the Turks, to build a mosque and school." Cyprus was to furnish the
revenues for this pious enterprise. Fra Angelo says also that the
Sultan was influenced to the conquest of the island "from his fondness
for its excellent wines and the beautiful falcons that are taken
there."

A great army was collected and allowed, owing to the mismanagement of
affairs by the Venetians and local authorities, to invest the inland
capital of Nicosia. After a gallant defence by the untrained troops
and inhabitants within, they took the town. It is curious to read
to-day, that grim badinage such as has recently been practised by the
Boers investing Ladysmith, was indulged in by the Turks at Nicosia.
Thus they drove a donkey up the wrecked wall crying in mockery, "Don't
hurt the poor ass, it can do you no harm," and shouted, "Surrender,
for you are in a bad way."

The horrors that occurred when once the Turkish soldiers were inside
Nicosia are too dreadful to dwell on. Here is a single example. Says
Fra Angelo: "Among the slain were Lodovico Podochatoro and Lucretia
Calepia, my mother, whose head they cut off on her serving-maid's lap.
They tore infants in swaddling-clothes from their mothers' breasts, of
whom I could baptize only one," and so forth. On the day following the
sack the best-looking of the surviving lads and girls were sold by
auction, "the buyers taking no thought or count of their noble birth,
but only of the beauty of their faces." But these poor victims, or
most of them, were not destined to serve as slaves in any Turkish
harem. The great galleon of Muhamites and two other vessels were laden
with them as a gift to the Sultan, to Mehmed Pasha, and Murad the
Sultan's son. But some noble girl or woman, her name is not recorded,
though surely her glory should live on for ever, thinking that the
death of herself and her companions was preferable to so infamous a
fate, contrived to creep the magazine and fire it, with the result
that the galleon and two other ships with every living soul on board
of them were blown into the air. The incident is in perfect keeping
with the horrid history of that period throughout Europe.

Famagusta was invested by Mustafa and between one and two hundred
thousand soldiers and adventurers upon September 18, 1570, the defence
being under the charge of the immortal Mark Antonio Bragadino, the
captain of the city. For nearly eleven months did the little garrison
and townsfolk hold out, with but scant aid from Venice. They beat back
assault after assault--there were six or eight of them; they mined and
counter-mined; they made sallies and erected new defences as the old
were battered down; in short they did everything that desperation
could contrive or courage execute. At length when only five hundred
Italian soldiers and a few Cyprian men and women were left sound
within their gates, and many of their walls and towers had been blown
into the air, it was want that conquered them, not the Turk.


 "The position of the city was now desperate; within the walls
  everything was lacking except hope, the valour of the commanders,
  and the daring of the soldiers. The wine was exhausted, neither
  fresh nor salted meat nor cheese could be had except at
  extravagant prices. The horses, asses, and cats were consumed.
  There was nothing to eat but bread and beans, nothing to drink but
  vinegar and water, and this too soon failed!"


Then after between 140,000 and 170,000 cannon-balls, many of which I
have seen lying about to this day, had been fired into the city, and
the Turks had suffered a loss of from thirty to fifty thousand men, at
length the brave Bragadino negotiated an honourable surrender under
the terms of which the defenders were to be given their arms, lives,
and goods, "a safe-conduct to Candia under an escort of galleys," and
the townsfolk the grace of staying "in their houses to enjoy what was
their own, living like Christians without any molestation therefor."

Upon these terms peace was signed and the soldiers began to embark in
the vessels provided for them. The next evening, or at any rate upon
that of August the 5th, the Signor Bragadino, accompanied by about a
dozen officers and attended by guard of fifty men, according to Fra
Angelo, and nearly two hundred according to Bishop Graziani, paid a
visit to Mustafa who received him courteously and kindly, praising the
valour of the defence. The visit concluded, they rose to take leave,
whereupon Mustafa asked that the prisoners captured during the siege
might be sent to him. Bragadino replied that he had no prisoners. Then
the Turk, pretending to be astonished, shouted out, "They were then
murdered during the truce," and bade his soldiers who stood ready to
seize and bind the Christians.

Now it was that the brutal ruffian, Mustafa, showed himself in his
true colours. The story is best told in the words of Mr. Cobham's
translation of Fra Angelo Calepio, although Bishop Graziani's account
as rendered by Midgley is almost as good.


 "They were defenceless, for they were compelled to lay aside
  their arms before entering the tent, and thus bound were led one
  by one into the open square before the tent, and cut to pieces in
  Mustafa's presence. Then twice and thrice he made Signor
  Bragadino, who showed no sign of fear, stretch out his neck as
  though he would strike off his head, but spared his life and cut
  off his ears and nose, and as he lay on the ground Mustafa reviled
  him, cursing our Lord and saying, 'Where is now thy Christ that He
  doth not help thee?' The General made never an answer, but with
  lofty patience waited the end. Count Hercule Martinengo, one of
  the hostages, was also bound, but was hidden by one of Mustafa's
  eunuchs until his chief's fury was passed. He did not slay him,
  but doomed him, as long as his soul cleaved to his body, to
  continual death in life, making him his eunuch and slave, so that
  happy he had he died with the rest a martyr's death. There were
  three citizens in the tent, who were released, but the poor
  soldiers bound like so many lambs were hewed in pieces, with three
  hundred other Christians, who never dreamed of such gross perfidy,
  and impious savagery. The Christians who were already embarked
  were brutally robbed and thrown into chains.

 "The second day after the murders, August 7th, Mustafa first
  entered the city. He caused Signor Tiepolo, Captain of Baffo, who
  was left in Signor Bragadino's room, to be hanged by the neck, as
  well as the commandant of the cavalry. On August 17th, a day of
  evil memory, being a Friday and their holiday, Signor Bragadino
  was led, full of wounds which had received no care, into the
  presence of Mustafa, on the batteries built against the city, and
  for all his weakness, was made to carry one basket full of earth
  up and another down, on each redoubt, and forced to kiss the
  ground when he passed before Mustafa. Then he was led to the
  shore, set in a slung seat, with a crown at his feet, and hoisted
  on the yard of the galley of the Captain of Rhodes, hung 'like a
  stork' in view of all the slaves and Christian soldiers of the
  port. Then this noble gentleman was led to the square, the drums
  beat, the trumpets sounded, and before a great crowd they stripped
  him, and made him sit amid every insult on the grating of the
  pillory. Then they stretched him on the ground and brutally flayed
  him alive. His saintly soul bore all with great firmness,
  patience, and faith; with never a sign of wavering he commended
  himself to his Saviour, and when their steel reached his navel he
  gave back to his Maker his truly happy and blessed spirit. His
  skin was taken and stuffed with straw, carried round the city, and
  then, hung on the yard of a galliot, was paraded along the coast
  of Syria with great rejoicings. The body was quartered, and a part
  set on each battery. The skin, after its parade, was placed in a
  box together with the head of the brave Captain Hestor Baglione,
  and those of S. Luigi Martinengo, G. A. Bragadino, and G. A.
  Querini, and all were carried to Constantinople and presented to
  the Gran Signor, who caused them to be put in his prison, and I
  who was a captain chained in that prison as spy of the Pope, on my
  liberation tried to steal that skin, but could not."


According to Johannes Cotovicus, or Johann van Kootwick, a Hollander
whose work was published at Antwerp in 1619, this hideous execution of
Bragadino was carried out by a Jewish hangman. The same author tells
us that the martyr's skin was in the end purchased at a great price by
his brother and sons, and, five-and-twenty years after the murder,
buried in a marble urn in the church of SS. Giovanni e Paolo at
Venice. Here is the inscription and a translation:--


                               D. O. P.

             M. Anontii Bragadeni dum pro fide et patria
           Bello Cyprio Salaminae contra Turcas constanter
             Fortiterq. curam principem sustineret longa
          Obsidione victi a perfida hostis manu ipso vivo ac
                    Intrepide sufferente detracta
                                Pellis
      Ann. Sal. CIC[*]. IC. LXXI. XV. Kal. Sept. Anton. fratris
                    Opera et inpensa Byzantio huc
                               Advecta
             Atque hic a Marco Hermolao Antonioque filiis
         Pientissimis ad summi Dei patriae paternique nominis
                         Gloriam sempiternam
                                Posita
           Ann. Sal. CIC[*]. IC. LXXXXVI. vixit ann. XLVI.

[*] The second C is rotated 180° in the book.--JB.


                    To God the Best and Mightiest

  The skin of Mark Antony Bragadino, torn from him while alive and
  suffering fearlessly, by the faithless hand of the enemy, on the
  eighteenth day of August, in the year of our Salvation 1571, when,
  in the Cyprian war waged against the Turks for faith and
  fatherland, he was overborne in the long siege of Salamis, where
  he commanded with constancy and valour, was brought hither from
  Byzantium by the care and at the cost of his brother Antony, and
  laid here by his devoted sons, Mark Hermolaus and Antony, to the
  eternal glory of God most High, of their country, and their
  father's name, in the year of our Salvation 1596. He lived
  forty-six years.


In this inscription it will be observed that the besieged town is
spoken of as Salamis, that being the name of the ancient ruined city
which stood a few miles from Famagusta.

Thus Famagusta and with it all Cyprus fell into the power of the Turk,
who for three centuries ruled it as ill as only he can do. Now once
more it has passed into the hands of England. Long may this fair and
fruitful island abide there, to its own benefit and that of the
empire.

One sad change I noticed on this my second visit to Famagusta.
Fourteen years ago the gardens of Varoshia, as the present town is
called, were full of the most lovely orange-trees. Even at this
distance of time I can recall the pleasure with which I walked in one
of them, smelling the scent of the flowers and considering the golden
fruit and green, shiny leaves. Now they are all dead, or nearly so.
The blight of which I have spoken upon a previous page, in the absence
of remedies that their owners were too idle to apply, has slain them.
Here and there stick up old stems with blackened foliage and some
shrivelled fruit, sad mementoes of the past that would be better done
away.

Often have I wished that I could paint but never more so, I think,
than at Famagusta, especially one morning when I stood upon the lonely
seashore looking out across the still more lonely ocean. Storm-clouds
were gathering, and in their blackest shadow, old as the walls of
Famagusta perhaps, stood a single giant fig-tree, its buds just
bursting into points of crinkled, green-gold leaf. There was something
very strange about the aspect of that tree. It looked as though it
lived and suffered; it reminded me, fantastically enough, of the
tortured Bragadino. Its natural bent was sideways and groundwards, but
the straight branches, trained thus by centuries of wind, lay back
from the sloping trunk like the out-blown hair of a frightened feeling
woman. In colour it was ashen, the hue of death, only its roots were
gold-tinted, for the shifting sand revealed them, gripping and
strangling each other like hateful yellow snakes. It was such a tree
as the Saviour might have cursed for barrenness, and the site seemed
appropriate to its aspect. About it were the sand-dunes, behind it lay
a swamp with dead and feathered grasses shivering in the wind. To the
right more sands, in front the bitter sea, and to the left, showing
stately against a background of gloom, the cathedral of Famagusta
still royal in its ruins. As I stood a raven flew overhead, croaking,
and a great fox darker than our own in colour, loped past me to vanish
among the dunes.

Altogether it was a scene fitted to the brush of an artist, or so I
thought.

Within three miles or so of Old Famagusta lie the ruins that were
Salamis, formerly the famous port of the Messaoria plain, where once
St. Paul and Barnabas "preached the word of God in the synagogues of
the Jews." It was a town eight hundred years before Christ was born
however, for a monument of Sargon the Assyrian tells of a certain king
of Salamis, and until the reign of Constantine the Great when an
earthquake destroyed it, it flourished more than any other Cyprian
city. Now not even a house is to be found upon its vast site, and the
harbour that was always full of ships, is quite silted up. Many of the
stones also that made its palaces and temples, have been built into
the walls and churches of Famagusta, to find often enough an ultimate
home in Egypt, whither the Turks exported them.

One day we visited this place. On our left as we went our host, Mr.
Percy Christian, pointed out to me a tumulus, in Cyprus a rare and
notable thing. Some years ago he opened it, indeed the scar of that
operation is still visible. Tunnelling through the outer earth the
workmen came to a most beautiful tomb, built of huge monolithic stones
fitted together with an accuracy which Mr. Christian describes as
marvellous. As it proved impossible to pierce these stones, the
visitors were obliged to burrow lower and force a passage through the
floor. I could not, I confess, help laughing when Mr. Christian added
that to his intense disgust he discovered that other antiquarians, in
some past age, had attacked the sepulchre from the further side of the
mound. They also had been beaten by the gigantic blocks. They also had
burrowed and made their visit through the floor. Moreover, by way of
souvenir they had taken with them whatever articles of value the tomb
may have chanced to contain.

Even sepulchre-searching has its sorrows. I am afraid that if after
those days and weeks of toil, it had been my fortune, full of glorious
anticipation, to poke my head through that violated floor merely to
discover in the opposite corner another hole whereby another head had
once arisen, I should have said how vexed I was and with some
emphasis. He who labours among the tombs should be very patient and
gentle-natured--like Mr. Christian.

Almost opposite to this tumulus is a barrow-shaped building also
composed of huge blocks of stone, set in an arch and enclosing a space
beneath of the size of a small chapel out of which another little
chamber opens. This is called the tomb of St. Katherine, why I do not
know. From its general characteristics I should imagine that it is of
the Mycenian period, if the Mycenians understood how to fashion an
arch. The individual blocks are truly huge, and it is nothing short of
marvellous that men of the primitive races were able to handle them.
It seems probable that this sepulchre and that in the opposing tumulus
date from the same age. Perhaps both the tombs were first built upon
the level of the design of covering them in beneath mounds of earth.
In this event we may conclude that the reputed burying-place of St.
Katherine was never finished or occupied by any distinguished corpse.
At least it is a curious and most durable monument of the past.

All this district is very rich in tombs. Near by is the village of
Enkomi where Mr. Percy Christian, digging on behalf of the British
Museum, recently found the Mycenian gold ornaments now to be seen in
its Gold-room. These Enkomi tombs are not structurally remarkable and
lie quite near the surface. Indeed they were first discovered by the
accident of a plough-ox putting his hoof into one of them. At the
period of their construction, however, evidently it was the habit of
the people who used them as their last resting-places, to bury all his
most valuable possessions with the deceased. Thus one of the graves
appears to have been that of a jeweller, for in it were found solid
lumps of gold sliced from cast bars of the metal, as well as fashioned
trinkets.

In many instances they have been plundered in past days, although when
this has happened the conscience of the ancient tomb-breakers, more
sensitive than that of us moderns, generally forbade them to take
everything. Thus in one tomb which Mr. Charles Christian entered,
though this was not at Enkomi, he found a portion of a splendid
beaker, worth £60 or £70 in weight of gold, which fragment very
clearly had been wrenched from the vessel and thrown back into the
grave. It is a common thing in such cases to find that all valuables
have been removed except a single ear-ring, or one bead of a necklace,
left among the mouldering bones to appease the spirit of the dead.
Obviously these poor ghosts were not supposed to possess more
intelligence than the domestic hen which, after all the rest have been
removed, will continue solemnly to sit upon a single egg, even if it
be of china.

In one of the Enkomi tombs Mr. Percy Christian discovered the unique
ivory casket which is now in the British Museum and valued there, I
understand, at thousands of pounds.

The story of its finding is curious, and shows how easily such
precious treasures may be missed. The actual clearing of the tombs
from loose earth and rubbish is of necessity generally left to
experienced overseers. On a certain evening Mr. Christian came to the
diggings and was informed by the head man that he had carefully
excavated and sifted out this particular grave, finding nothing but a
few bones. By an after-thought, just to satisfy himself, Mr. Christian
went into the place with a light and searched. Seeing that it was as
bare as the cupboard of Mother Hubbard, he was about to leave when by
a second after-thought--a kind of enacted lady's postscript--he began
to scrape among the stuff upon the floor. The point of his stick
struck something hard and yellow which he took up idly, thinking that
it was but a bit of the skull or other portion of the frame of a
deceased Mycenian. As Mycenians, however, did not carve their
skeletons, and as even in that light he could see that this object was
carved, he continued his researches, to discover, lying just beneath
the surface much disjointed by damp, the pieces of a splendid ivory
casket. The method, extraordinarily ingenious, whereby he succeeded in
removing all these fragments /in situ/ and without injury, is too long
to describe, even if I remembered its details. Suffice it to say that
he poured plaster of Paris or some such composition over them, thereby
recovering them in such perfect condition that the experts at home
have been able to rebuild this valuable casket exactly as it was when,
thousands of years ago, some Mycenian placed it in the resting-place
of a beloved relative. Doubtless it was that relative's most treasured
possession.

In some respects these ancients must have been curiously unselfish.
Few heirs of to-day would consent to objects of enormous value--such
as pictures by Titian or gold cups by Benvenuto Cellini--being
interred with the bones of the progenitor or testator who had
cherished them during life. Yet in the early ages this was done
continually. Thus, to take one example, I saw not long ago, I think in
the Naples Museum, a drinking-vase that even in its own period must
have been absolutely without price, which was discovered in the tomb
of one of the Roman emperors. More, a screw or nail hole has been
pierced rudely through the bottom of the vase, whether to destroy its
value or to fasten it to the breast-plate or furnitures of the corpse,
I cannot say. In Cyprus such instances are very common.

Close by St. Katherine's tomb stands that grove which among the
inhabitants of this neighbourhood is known as the "accursed trees."
Those trees nobody will touch, since to carry away any portion of them
for burning or other purposes, is supposed to entail sudden and
terrible disaster. Indeed it is said that one bold spirit who, being
short of firewood, dared to fly in the face of tradition, suffered not
long ago many horrible things in consequence of his crime. Of these
trees it is reported also that they have never put out any leaves in
spring or summer for uncounted generations, and yet neither rot or
die. Also that no other trees of the sort are known in Cyprus, which I
do not believe. Certainly at first sight their appearance is very
curious, for they are spectral-looking and seem to be quite dead. On
careful examination, however, I solved the mystery. It is this, or so
I think; the thorns grow upon very poor, shallow, and stony ground,
perhaps over ruins. Nearly all their twigs are sere and brittle for
they snap between the fingers, but if looked at closely it will be
seen that upon the stems faint new growths can be found here and
there, which at the period of our visit were just breaking into leaf
like those of every other tree. Their vitality is sufficient to enable
them to do this and no more, thereby saving them from actual decay. So
much for the "accursed grove" and its attendant superstition.

All about this place among the ruins grow huge plants of fennel
throwing up flower-stems six or eight feet high. With the roots of
this herb is found a species of mushroom or fungus, which is much
prized locally and considered very delicate eating. We saw a native
searching for these mushrooms by the help of a long stick. As he
wandered from bush to bush, his steadfast eyes fixed upon the ground,
this man added a curiously lonesome and impressive note to that solemn
and deserted landscape.

The walls of old Salamis, enclosing a great area of land, and even
some of its gateways, can still be clearly traced. The sites of
Amathus and Curium were desolate, but neither of them, to my fancy, so
desolate as this, where not even a patch of barley is sown among the
ruins that stretch on and on, tumbled heaps of stone, till they end in
barren dunes, self-reclaimed from the sea, the place where flighting
cranes pause to rest after their long journeys.

Since last I visited this dead city the Cyprus Exploration Fund has
been at work here, revealing amongst other buried buildings the site
of the great market, or forum, a vast place, at a guess six hundred
yards or so in length by some two hundred broad. This mart was
surrounded by columns of Egyptian granite; there they lie in every
direction, shattered, doubtless, by the earthquake in the time of
Constantine. What labour and money it must have cost to set them here.
Along one side of this public ground, which in its day must have been
magnificent indeed, probably beneath the shelter of the colonnade,
there seems to have been a row of shops, whereof some of the name or
broken advertisement boards carved on marble in Greek letters are
still lying here and there. Perhaps this was the Burlington Arcade of
Salamis, but oh! where are the Arcadians?

It is wonderful, in a sense it is almost terrifying, to look at this
empty stone-strewn plain with its tall yellow-flowered weeds, its
solitary fungus-hunter, its prostrate colonnades; its mounds that once
were walls, its depressions which once were gates, its few scattered
sheep and goats hungrily seeking for pasture among the coarse growth
that in every clime springs up where mankind has had his home; its
choked harbour, and then to close our living, physical eyes and
command those of the mind to look backward through the generations.

Behold the great glittering sea alive with galleys, the hollow port
filled with rude trading vessels from the coasts of Italy, Syria,
Greece, and Egypt. Look down from this high spot upon the thousands of
flat, cemented roofs, pierced by narrow streets roughly paved and
crowded with wayfarers and citizens standing or seated about their
doors. Yonder, a mile away upon the hill beyond the harbour, stands a
lovely building supported and surrounded with columns of white marble,
between which appear statues, also of white marble. It is the temple
of Venus, and those gaily-decked folk advancing to its portals are
pilgrims to her shrine. Turn, and here and here and here are other
temples dedicated to other gods, all dead to-day, dead as their
worshippers. And this market at our feet, it hums like a hive of bees.
There law-courts are sitting; see the robed pleaders, each surrounded
by a little following of anxious, eager clients. There to the south on
the paved place clear of buildings, except the marble shelters for the
auctioneers, two sales are in progress, one of human beings and one of
beasts of burden. There again in the shadow of the colonnade is the
provision mart where butlers, eunuchs, and housewives haggle loudly
with peasants and fishermen. At yonder shop several young men of
fashion and a white-robed woman or two with painted eyes inspect the
marvellous necklaces wrought by the noted jeweller named--ah! his name
escapes us. He neglected to write it in his tomb whence last year Mr.
Christian took this golden collar that the artist would not part with
save at a price which none of those gallants or their loves could pay.
Hark now to the shouting! Why do those gorgeously attired runners,
followed by outriders clad in uncouth mail, push a way through the
crowd beating them with their wands of office? The king--the king
himself drives down the street to pass along the market towards that
temple at its head, where he will make an offering because of the
victory of his arms over certain enemies in the mountains. He is a
splendid-looking figure, shining with gold and gems, but very sick and
weary, for this king loves the rich Cyprian wine.

But such pictures are endless, let us leave them buried every one
beneath the dust of ages. Our lamp is out, only the blank dull sheet
is there; about us are ruins, sky and sea, with the fungus-pickers,
the yellow-flowered weeds and the wandering sheep--no more.

What a sight must that have been when great Salamis fell at last,
shaken down, hurled into the sea, sunk to the bowels of the earth
beneath the awful sudden shock of earthquake. Those mighty columns
shattered like rods of glass tell us something of the story, compared
to which the burying of Pompeii under its cloak of flaming stone was
but a trivial woe. But each reader must fashion it for himself. My
version might not please him.

Not far away from the forum or market are baths. One can still see
portions of their mosaic floor, polished by the feet of many thousand
bathers, and the flues that warmed the water. Further on is the site
of the great reservoir with remains of the aqueduct that filled it. As
one may still see to-day its waters must have been distributed along
the streets by means of little marble channels at their sides, a
poisonous practice that doubtless bred much sickness, since they were
open to every contamination. It would be interesting to know what was
the death-rate in these old places. I imagine that it would appal us.

The necropolis of Salamis, as Mr. Percy Christian informed me sadly,
has never yet been discovered. He showed me, however, where he
believed it to be, under certain drifted sand-heaps near the temple of
Venus and the seashore, but outside the walls of the city. If so,
there it will rest till the British Museum ransacks it, since private
persons may dig no longer. Then what treasures will appear! The
gathered wealth of forty or fifty generations of the citizens of one
of the richest cities of the ancient world, or such portions of it as
its owners took with them to their tombs--nothing less.

If only all the multitudes which once inhabited these walls could rise
again before our eyes and in their company those of the other dead
cities of Cyprus! The great Messaoria plain would be white with the
sea of their faces and alive with the flash of their eyes. There would
be no standing-room in Cyprus; the millions of them would overflow its
shores and crowd the brow of ocean further than the sight could
follow. What has become of them? Where can there be room for
them--even for their ghosts? I suppose that we shall find out one day,
but meanwhile the problem has a certain uncanny fascination. Perhaps
the stock is really strictly limited and /we/ are their ghosts. That
would account for the great interest I found in Salamis, which most
people, especially ladies, think a very dull place, duller even than
Famagusta.

Perhaps the most interesting relic of all those at Salamis is that
ruin of the fane of Cypris which is set upon a hill. There is,
however, not much to be seen except broken columns of the purest white
marble, and here and there the fragments of statues. But the shape of
the temple can still be traced; its situation, overlooking the sea
upon a rising mount where grow asphodel, anemones, and other sky-blue
flowers of whose name I am ignorant, is beautiful, and the sighs of a
million lovers who worshipped Venus at this altar still seem to linger
in the soft and fragrant air.

When we reached home again a lady, our fellow-guest, described to me
the ceremony of a Turkish wedding to which she had been invited that
afternoon. I will not set down its details second-hand, but the bride,
she said, was a poor little child of eleven who had to be lifted up
that the company might see her in her nuptial robes and ornaments. The
husband, a grown man, is reported to be an idiot. It seems strange
that such iniquities, upon which I forbear to comment further, can
still happen under the shadow of the British flag.

This reminds me of another Turkish ceremony. On the day that we left
Famagusta, at the conclusion of our visit, for Nicosia, we halted a
while to breathe our horses in the village of Kouklia, where, by the
way, there is a beautiful leaking aqueduct that is covered with
maidenhair fern. While I was admiring the ferns and the water that
dripped among them, a Turkish funeral advanced out of the village,
which at a respectful distance we took the liberty of following to the
burial-ground. The corpse, accompanied by a motley crowd of mourners,
relatives, sight-seers, and children, was laid uncoffined upon a rough
bier that looked like a large mortar-board, and hidden from sight
beneath a shroud ornamented with red and green scarves. Upon arrival
at the graveyard, an unkempt place, with stones innocent of the
mason's hammer marking the head and foot of each grave and serving as
stands for pumpkins to dry on in the sun, the dead man was carried to
a primitive bench or table made of two slabs set upright in the ground
about seven feet apart, and a third laid on them crossways. Here,
while a woman sitting on a little mound at a distance, set up a most
wild and melancholy wail for the departed, a priest, I know not his
proper appellation, stepping forward began to offer up prayers to
which the audience made an occasional response. The brief service
concluded, once more the body was lifted and borne round the cemetery
to its grave, that seemed to be about three feet six inches in depth.
Here it was robbed of its gay-coloured scarves, of which a little
child took charge, and after a good deal of animated discussion,
lowered into the hole in a sitting posture with the help of two linen
bands that one of the company unwound from about his middle. Then
while a sheet was held over the corpse, as I suppose to prevent its
face from being seen, some of the mourners arranged planks and the top
of an old door in the grave above it, perhaps to keep it from contact
with the earth. At this point we were obliged to leave as the carriage
waited, and I am therefore unable to say if there was any further
ceremony before the soil was finally heaped over the mortal remains of
this departed and, I trust, estimable Turk.

Then we drove on across a grey expanse relieved now and again with
patches of rich green barley breaking into ear. On our right the
rugged, towering points of the five-fingered mountain called
Pentadactylon, stood out above the black clouds of a furious storm of
wind and rain which overtook us. Still we struggled forward through
its gloom, till at length the sun shone forth, and in the glow of
evening we saw the walls, palms, and minarets of the ancient and
beautiful city of Nicosia.



                             CHAPTER XIII

                         NICOSIA AND KYRENIA

Nicosia looks little changed since first I saw it many years ago. The
trees that were planted in portions of the moat by the governor of
that day, Sir Henry Bulwer, have grown into considerable timbers,
though, by the way, those set upon the rocky soil round the wooden
Government House have not flourished as I hoped they would. Also the
narrow streets are somewhat cleaner and more wholesome, if any Eastern
town where all household slops are thrown out into the gutters or
gardens can be called wholesome; that is about all. No, not quite all,
for sundry houses have arisen outside the new city, pretty dwellings
with gardens round them, inhabited for the most part by officials, and
the old Konak, or Turkish government office, after standing for some
six hundred years, has been in great part pulled down, and is now a
gaping ruin. This seems to me a very wanton and ill-judged act, for
the building had many beauties which can never be seen again. Indeed
on second thoughts the authorities appear to have shared this view,
since when it was pressed upon them by some local antiquaries, they
desisted from their destroying labours, leaving the unique gateway
untouched, though, unless something is soon done to support it, not, I
fear, for long. Now it is a sheltering place for wanderers, at least I
found the blackest woman I ever saw, in bed there, who as I passed
made earnest representations to me, in an unknown tongue, to what
purpose I was unable to discover. It seemed odd to find so very black
a person reposing thus in the middle of the day beneath that draughty
antique portal. Otherwise all is the same; even many of the government
officers remain, like myself grown somewhat older, although death and
migrations to a better post have removed several familiar faces.

I think it was on the day after our arrival that we started with our
hosts, Mr. and Mrs. Hart Bennett, on a visit to Kyrenia, the beautiful
little seaport which lies across the northern mountains. Our plan was
to drive to the foot of these mountains and thence to ride on
mule-back to the wonderful old castle of Hilarion, set high upon its
almost inaccessible crags. We never got there, however, for the rain
stopped us. In my case this did not so much matter, for I had visited
the place before, but to my nephew it was a great disappointment. The
country between Nicosia and the mountains is very curious and
desolate. Here the strata seem to have been tilted on edge by some
fearful convulsion in the beginnings of the world, so that more than
anything else they resemble long lines of military trenches of brown
earth lying behind each other in numberless succession, and topped,
each of them, with a parapet of rock.

On arriving at the police-station near the foot of the mountains, we
halted to lunch in the company of friends who had ridden out from
Kyrenia. Our meeting-place should have been Hilarion, but as I have
said the rain stayed us. To climb up into the bosom of that black
cloud seemed too forbidding, and had we done so the castle is
sheltered by no roof beneath which we could have picnicked.

Nobody seems to know who built Hilarion or who lived there. Mr.
Alexander Drummond, writing in 1754, tells us that it is said to have
been fortified by one of the Lusignan queens, Charlotta, who was
obliged to shelter there when a usurper called James the Bastard, as I
think, her half-brother, had been established on the throne by the
"Egyptian Power." Cesnola writes also that it was a stronghold of the
Lusignans and used by them as a state prison. Lastly, I remember that
when I was there in past years, a well-informed gentleman told me that
it had once stood a siege and been captured, whereon three hundred
persons, men, women, and children, were hurled from a particularly
hideous height into a chasm of the mountains. I do not know if there
is any foundation for this legend. At least the place, which still
boasts some lovely windows and a huge cistern for the storage of soft
water, is very wonderful, set as it is so high among those giddy
peaks. With what infinite toil, cost, and pains must some old tyrant
have reared its towers. Their style by the way is Gothic.

When the rain began to slacken I went for a walk, to look at a wood of
young trees which some enterprising gentleman has planted here. They
are doing well, and among them I was so fortunate as to find the bee
orchis of our shores in flower. Also, as I think I have said upon a
previous page, to my delight I observed that all the steep-flanked
mountains round are becoming clothed again with forests of young fir.

In the afternoon, the weather now being fine, we started for Kyrenia
on the mules, some of us taking a rough ride across country to visit
Bella Pais--or De la Paix as it is called by Cornelius van Bruyn, who
wrote about 1693, and other authors--the old Lusignan abbey which
stands in the village of Lapais, to my mind the most beautiful spot in
all Cyprus. I am not, however, certain that it was an abbey. Drummond
(1745) questions this, saying that he supposes it to have been "the
grand /commanderie/ of the island owned by one of the knightly
orders." He finds corroboration of his view in the name Della Pays,
derived, he says, from the Italian Della Paese, though how this proves
that the building was a /commanderie/ I am at a loss to understand. I
confess, however, to a certain curiosity as to the true designation of
the ruin. De la Paix means, of the peace; de la Pays, of the country;
Bella Pais, beautiful peace; Bella Paese, beautiful country. Whatever
may have been the ancient form, the last and modern reading seems the
most appropriate.

The building is as I remember it years ago, only somewhat more
dilapidated. Certain cracks are wider, certain bits of wall have
fallen, its end draws more near. This indeed must come within the next
few generations unless the Government will find money to restore one
of its most beautiful possessions. At present, as I assured myself by
personal inquiry, it is not the will that is wanting, but the means.
While the British Treasury grabs at every farthing of surplus revenue,
Cyprus has no funds wherewith to preserve her ancient and mediaeval
monuments.

The place cannot have changed much during the last two centuries.
Indeed van Bruyn's description of it might almost pass to-day. One
thing that struck him, I remember struck me also. Talking of the
underground chamber or crypt, he says "one might fancy it all built
five or six years ago." Even now, over two hundred years later, the
masonry is extraordinarily fresh. Also he speaks of a certain very
tall cypress. I think that tree, a monster of its kind, is still
standing, at least it stood fourteen years ago. Owing to the
circumstances under which we left the abbey, on this visit I had no
time to seek out its gracious towering shape.

It is difficult to describe such a building as Bella Pais, for to give
a string of measurements and architectural details serves little--out
of a guide-book. In the solemn old refectory, a beauteous chamber,
leading I think to the reader's pulpit, is a little stair in the
seaward wall, and at the head of this stair a window, and out of that
window a view. If I were asked to state what is the most lovely
prospect of all the thousands I have studied in different parts of the
world, I think I should answer--That from the little window of the
refectory of the Abbey of Bella Pais in Cyprus.

Around are mountains, below lie woods and olive groves and bright
patches of green corn. Beyond is the blue silent sea, and across it,
far away but clearly outlined, the half-explored peaks and precipices
of Karamania. I said it was difficult to describe an ancient building,
but who can describe a view which so many things combine to perfect
that can scarcely be defined in thought, much less in words? The
thousand colours of the Eastern day drawing down to night, the bending
of the cypress tops against the sky, the slow flash of the heaving
ocean in the level rays of sunset, the shadows on the mighty mountain
tops, the solemnity of the grey olives, the dizzy fall of the
precipice, the very birds of prey that soar about it--all these are
parts of that entrancing whole. But what worker in words can fit them
into their proper place and proportion, giving to each its value and
no more?

In this refectory they show rings in the wall where Turks stabled
their horses when they took the island; also many holes at one end
caused, the old native custodian swore, with bullets fired in sport by
British soldiers who were quartered here at the time of the
occupation. I like to think, however, that the Turk is responsible for
these also, and not Mr. Atkins.

I went to look at the old chapel, not the building now used as a Greek
church, which we also visited. This chapel is quite in ruins, and
weeds grow rankly among the stones that doubtless hide the skeletons
of the priests and Templars who once bent the knee upon them. The
cloisters still remain with their charming pillared arcades and the
marble sarcophagus of which all the old travellers talk. Now the
quadrangle they enclose is a grove of oranges which have been planted
since my last visit. In van Bruyn's day it was a garden, and some
other voyager a century or so later talks of it as a barley patch.
Perhaps the Templars used it as a court set out with flower-beds and
fountains.

By the time that we had finished our inspection the rain set in again
and night was near. For a while we waited under the shelter of the
cloisters hoping that it would stop, but at length made up our minds
to a soaking and started. We were not disappointed; it poured, and
that is why in the gathering gloom I was unable to look out for my old
friend the cypress tree. Moreover the road, or rather the track, was
awful and my mule, a proud and high-stomached beast which had waxed
fat on green barley, one of the laziest I ever rode. My belief is that
he had been accustomed to carry baggage, not men, and baggage mules
have their pace. At least being innocent of spurs I could not get him
along, and to make matters worse, at every slippery or awkward place
he stumbled out of sheer idleness, once very nearly falling in a
mud-hole three feet deep. What between the mule, the rain, and the
cold, it was, I confess, with joy that at last we dismounted at the
door of our host Mr. Tyzer, the judge for the district of Kyrenia.

Before finally bidding farewell to Bella Pais there is one point which
I will mention, in the hope that the matter may be looked into, that
is, if I am not mistaken in my surmise. While riding through the
village my companions and I observed the strangely unhealthy
appearance of the children, indeed I am sure that several of these
poor, hollow-eyed little creatures are, or were, not long for this
world. Now as the site is so high and wholesome, I imagine that their
ill looks must be accounted for in some other way. Perhaps the water
is contaminated.

The sights at Kyrenia, now vastly improved from what it used to be,
are the harbour and the old Venetian fortress. Also in former days
there was a Phoenician rock-cut tomb with the skeleton of the occupant
/in situ/ and all its trimmings, such as lamps and jars of
earthenware. But of this I can find no trace to-day. Everybody except
myself seems to have forgotten all about him. /Sic transit
gloria--cadaveris/. There are still, however, plenty of these
Phoenician tombs left in the neighbourhood.

The castle is a fine building of the same type and period as the
Famagusta fortifications and those of Nicosia. According to Drummond
(1750) "probably the whole work was repaired by Savorniani, who in the
year 1525 demolished the old works of these places and re-fortified
them." I do not know if he is correct and am, I confess, ignorant of
the fame of Savorniani, although I think I have read somewhere that he
was a noted military engineer of the period. Now the place is used as
a jail, a fortunate circumstance, since it makes some care of the
ancient fabric necessary. Here I would suggest that at very small
expense the old chapel could be restored. This is the more desirable
as no church exists for the convenience of English residents.

As at Limasol the view from the flat roof of this interesting fortress
is very fine, commanding as it does the rugged heights capped by the
grey towers of Hilarion, the fertile plain at their foot, and the
opposing coast of Asia Minor. Immediately beneath lies the little
harbour upon which the Government out of its scanty resources has
spent several thousand pounds. To my mind the money might have been
better expended elsewhere, since this haven is exposed to the fury of
the northern gales, and notwithstanding its protecting moles no vessel
of more than two hundred tons can enter it, even in calm weather.

The acting Commissioner, Mr. Ongley, pointed out to me, at the base of
one of the round towers against which the sea washes, a little window
that to within the last year or two has been walled up. Access was
gained to it by a ladder and the stones removed. Within, he said, was
found a cell without visible communication with any other part of the
castle, and in it the bones of a human being and those of a chicken.
It is suggested that these remains belonged to some political
prisoner, sent here, perhaps from Venice, to be walled up with the
chicken. Of course under the circumstances he would eat the chicken,
after which the rats ate him. I must add, however, that Major
Chamberlayne, the Commissioner at Nicosia, who is perhaps the best
authority in the island upon the mediaeval history of Cyprus, and who
actually opened this dungeon, throws doubts upon the story. Myself, I
do not quite believe it, for a reason which he did not mention but
that appears to me to have weight. I am convinced that upon such an
occasion the starving captive would not have left those bones. He
would have crunched them up and swallowed them. Perhaps some corpse of
which it was necessary to be rid in a time of siege was entombed here.
Who can say? At least that cell possesses considerable speculative
interest.

This fortress has known the shock of war, although I do not think it
offered any notable resistance to the Turks after the fall of Nicosia
and Famagusta. Here, in 1465, Charlotta was besieged for a whole year
by her brother, James the Bastard, when she seems to have surrendered
the place and fled with her husband, Louis, to Savoy.

The coasts of Karamania, which are so clearly visible from Kyrenia and
lie at a distance of about thirty miles, are not often visited by
travellers, whose throats the inhabitants are apt to cut. They are
reported to be a paradise for sportsmen, as ibex and other large game
live upon the mountain ranges. For a sum of three shillings I
purchased an enormous pair of the horns of one of these wild goats
which had found their way across the straits. Ibex, I am told, have a
habit when alarmed of hurling themselves off precipices and landing
unharmed upon their horns. In the course of some excursion of the sort
the owner of my pair has snapped off the point of one of them. Nature,
however, healed the fracture, but the symmetry of the horn is spoiled.

I did not enjoy this visit to Kyrenia so much as I expected, since, as
is common in Cyprus, my wetting and chill on the previous day induced
a touch of fever. It was mild, however, and yielded to a timely
application of quinine.

So back across the mountains to Nicosia and--a Book-Tea--a form of
festivity which has just reached the ancient home of Cypris. Myself, I
confess, I could have spared it, since of all varieties of
intellectual exercise this is the hardest that I know.

Nicosia is a place of many amusements. Thus they play golf there on a
course of nine holes. It is odd to do the round with a gentleman in a
round fez acting as your caddie, and to observe upon the greens--or
the yellows, for they are made of sand--Turkish ladies veiled in
/yashmaks/ engaged in the useful tasks of brushing and weeding. What
in their secret hearts do those denizens of the harem think of us, I
wonder? Would not their verdict, if we could get at it, be "Mad, mad,
my masters"? But English folk would celebrate book-teas and play golf
or any other accustomed game upon the brink of Styx. Perhaps that is
why they remain a ruling race, for to do this it is necessary to
preserve the habits and traditions of the fatherland, refusing
persistently to allow them to be overwhelmed by those of any
surrounding people. Witness the triumphant survival of the Hebrew. But
that subject is large.

The scene on this golf-course was quaint and picturesque. In front
appeared the bold outline of the Kyrenia hills with rugged old
Pentadactylon's five fingers pointing to a flaming, stormy sky, and
behind rose the palms and minarets of eastern-looking Nicosia. Between
the two lay the wide plain across whose spaces from time to time
wended strings of solemn camels, the head of each tied to the tail of
its brother in front, or little groups of asses laden with firewood
and other goods, a Cypriote seated on the last of them in a posture to
be acquired only by centuries of inherited experience. The links
themselves are by no means bad, though somewhat limited and
extemporary. Thus the bunkers are formed of artificial banks varied by
an occasional stone wall, the other hazards consisting chiefly of
breaks of asphodel and rocks cropping through the apology for turf.
Upon one of these rocks alas! I broke my host's best cleek.

I had long been looking forward to playing a second visit to the
museum at Nicosia, which consisted in past years of a few disorderly
rooms crowded with miscellaneous antiquities. Having before I left
England read reviews of an important new catalogue of the Cyprus
Museum, I concluded that all this was changed. The deeper proved my
disappointment.

To begin with there is no custodian, so I was dependent on the kind
offices of Major Chamberlayne to show me round. After long hammering
we were let into the house by a girl, who said she would go upstairs
and open the shutters of the rooms. On the ground floor beneath the
archway, and in a kind of court, altars, remains of marble horses and
chariots, tombstones, busts, unpacked crates of antiquities, some of
them marked as having been forwarded years ago, were mixed in great
confusion. The more precious objects were in a little chamber opening
out of this archway, but it was no easy task to discover the keys
which fitted the cases from which the trays had to be taken one by one
and then replaced. The Cyprus share of the famous Enkomi treasures of
which I have spoken we could not find anywhere. It appears indeed that
these objects are still locked up in some Government safe. Throughout
the whole collection the story is the same. So far as the general
public and Cyprus are concerned, it is practically valueless. For this
sad state of affairs, however, the Government must not be blamed. They
have not a single farthing to spend upon such things as relics of the
island's past history, however important and interesting these may be.

In this Cyprus collection, to my astonishment I came face to face with
an old friend. Many years ago, when first I visited Famagusta, I
feloniously did steal a certain cannon-ball which lay about among the
ruins just where three centuries ago it had fallen from some Turkish
gun. The ladies of our party followed my evil example and stole
another. Both of these mementoes we bore back to Government House and
there, with the effrontery of hardened offenders, openly displayed
them. Now it appeared that not long before a special Government edict
had been issued against the removal of ancient cannon-balls, and it
was pointed out that his Excellency could not suffer his own guests to
do those very things which he had forbidden to the public. Bowing to
the inevitable I thereupon surrendered my cannon-ball, but the ladies
refusing to be influenced by this pure logic, managed to retain
theirs, which they afterwards presented to me, so that at this moment
I hold it in my hand.

What became of that cannon-ball--mine, I mean--I often wondered, and
on this day so long, long afterwards I found out. There, yes, there
neglected in a dusty corner on the floor, in company with the noseless
head of a Greek child and the fragments of a Phoenician pot,
unhonoured and uncared for, lay the heavy missile that with so much
labour I had borne away from Famagusta. There was no doubt about it, I
could swear to that lump of iron in any court of law; also it was the
only one in the place, and evidently had been deposited here that the
authorities might be rid of it. Moreover, by a strange coincidence the
very gentleman whose official duty it had been to relieve me of the
stolen property in the first instance, was now at my side.

Life is full of coincidences. Who would have thought that the three of
us, Major Chamberlayne, Cannon-ball, and I, would live to meet again
thus strangely after so long a lapse of time and in so far off a land?
Sorely, I admit, was my virtue tempted, for while my guide was
mourning over something out of place in a distant corner, I might
easily have transferred the ball to my coat pocket, trusting to
fortune and the strength of the stitching to get it away, and
unobserved. But so greatly has my moral character strengthened and
improved during the last decade and a half, that actually I left it
where it was, and where doubtless it will remain until some one throws
it on to the museum rubbish heap.

The island of Cyprus is one of the few countries in the world that I
have felt sorry to leave. Often I have thought that it would be a
delightful place to live in, not in the towns, a frequenter of
book-teas, but in solitude as a hermit upon some haunted hill among
the shattered pillars of old cities, with vineyard slopes beneath and
the sea beyond. Only I should like to be a rich hermit--to the poor
that profession must be irksome--and then I would restore Bella Pais
and see what the land could grow. A friend of mine did in fact turn
anchorite in Cyprus, but I noticed that he always seemed to find it
necessary to come home for his militia training, and when I re-visited
his hermitage the other day, lo! it was desolate.

Fortunately the road from Nicosia to Limasol by which the traveller
departs runs through the very dreariest districts of the island, and
thereby eases the farewell. For three hours' journey, or more, on
either side of it stretch bare, barren hills, worn to the grey bone,
as it were, by the wash of thousands of years of rain and bleached in
the fiery Cyprian sun. I daresay, however, that with care even the
most unpromising of this soil would nourish certain sorts of trees, as
probably it did in past ages.

Then the denudation would cease, the earth grow green, the flood
waters be held up and the former and the latter rain called down,
until here too, as on the Kyrenia coast, the land became a paradise.

And so farewell to Cyprus the bounteous and the beautiful.



                             CHAPTER XIV

                       BEYROUT, TYRE, AND SIDON

Our journeyings in Cyprus finished, we sailed from Limasol at night.
Next morning when I woke up early, our ship, a Messagerie boat, was
already anchoring in the waters of St. George's Bay, and before us lay
the busy city of Beyrout, the Berytus of the Phoenicians. Presently an
emissary of the Beyrout branch of the house of Cook arrived on board
and asked us if we had any revolvers, or cigarettes. We had both.

"Give them to me," he said, "and I'll see you through."

Then it transpired that in this matter of revolvers there is little
difference between the Turkish and the Cyprian governments. In a
country where every peasant goes about his business with a
double-barrelled gun slung across his shoulders, the respectable
traveller may not pass a pocket-pistol through the customs.

We left the ship with our belongings, and rowed to the landing-quay.
Then the fun began. Such shouting, such gesticulating, such struggles!
First we were marched through a room where sat an aged Turk who stared
at us sleepily. To him we protested that we had nothing, nothing! with
such vigour that the least experienced might have guessed that we
prevaricated. Then a minor Cook and his myrmidons hustled us through
passages and gateways into the open street, and whispering
mysteriously, "There is something wrong," left us and vanished.

In due course it transpired the "something" was that our sleepy-eyed
Turk, who was by no means so simple as he appeared, had caught sight
of the large revolver projecting from between the folds of a coat
gracefully arranged to hide it by the artifice of Cook. Further, he
had impounded that revolver, but as Cook, with admirable promptitude
and disregard of facts, informed him that we were sailing for Egypt in
a day or two, he was so good as to promise that we could have it when
we left. After this, thankful to escape so cheaply, we started for our
hotel.

That afternoon I hired a carriage to drive out to a spot about ten
miles away, called the Dog River, and by the ancient Greeks, /Lykos/,
or Wolf River. Here, in the days of fable, a huge stone dog sat upon a
rock and barked loudly whenever an enemy drew near. Perhaps--this is
but a suggestion--the statue was so constructed that the wind rushing
down his throat made a noise like to that of a hound which bays. At
the least he did in truth sit there, since lying prone in shallow
water I myself saw his gigantic, headless shape, large as that of an
ox or a horse. Now he barks no longer, but whenever the sea rises its
waves moan over him. Henry Maundrell saw him also in 1697, for he
says:--


 "In an hour or more, spent upon a very rugged way, close by the
  sea, we came to the river Lycus, called also, sometimes, Canis,
  and by the Turks, at this day, Nahr Kelp. It derives its name from
  an idol in the form of a dog or wolf, which was worshipped, and is
  said to have pronounced oracles, at this place. The image is
  pretended to be shown to strangers at this day, lying in the sea
  with its heels upward. I mean the body of it; for its oracular
  head is reported to have been broken off and carried to Venice,
  where (if fame be true) it may be seen at this day."


The first mile or so of our drive was through Beyrout, for the East, a
very prosperous-looking town, where everybody seems busy at his
trade--carpentering, copper-fashioning, weaving, or dyeing. Most of
the inhabitants are Christian, which accounts for this strange
activity; at any rate, their women, some of them may be called pretty
while young, go unveiled. The roads, however, are fearful. I have
never seen worse out of Central America. In places, indeed, it was as
much as two good horses could do to pull our carriage through the mud,
while the holes into which the wheels dropped continually were deep
and distressing.

So soon, however, as Beyrout was left behind these same roads suddenly
became excellent--no civilised turnpike could be better. The change
puzzled me greatly, but afterwards I discovered the reason. We had
passed into territory over which the Mussulman rules in name alone.
After the fearful massacre of the Christians at Damascus and elsewhere
by the Druses, encouraged thereto by the Turks, came the French
expedition of 1861. This display of force, backed by the remonstrances
of the Powers, obliged the unwilling Sultan to grant semi-independence
to the Maronites, and to allow the establishment of an /imperium in
imperio/, generally known as the Lebanon Government. Being Christian,
affiliated to the Roman Church indeed, although they retain certain
special privileges, since their priests have the right to read Mass in
Syraic and to marry, these Maronites are industrious and progressive.
Hence the good roads, the honest administration, and the suggestive
fact that property which lies within the territories of the Lebanon
Government fetches, if sold, about five times as much as that of
similar extent and character which has the advantage of bordering on
Beyrout, but the disadvantage of groaning under the rule of the
Moslem.

Every inch of the rich land that lines this road is in high
cultivation, a large proportion of it being planted with
mulberry-trees, which are kept severely cut back, as the young shoots
of two or three years' standing produce the richest crop of leaves.
These mulberries are not grown for their fruit but only for the
foliage, that feeds the silk-worms, which are perhaps the principal
source of wealth in this district. Between these plantations lie
patches of vines and other crops.

Here the road was crowded with transport animals; donkeys staggered
along under the weight of two great planks; camels laden with mighty
sacks of grain, and so forth. As we went I observed a farmer engaged
in setting a number of young trees, to receive which the ground had
been carefully trenched to a depth of over two feet. Finding it
troublesome to throw up the soil from the bottom of the trench, labour
doubtless being cheap in Syria, he overcame the difficulty in a very
ingenious fashion. To the stem of his shovel were attached two thin
ropes, each of them held by a man who stood upon the surface level.
When the agriculturist below had piled the spade with earth, at a word
the assistants above pulled, and, without any undue exertion on his
part, up came the shovel and its contents. The plan is clever, yet it
seemed to me somewhat wasteful to employ the muscles of three men to
throw one spadeful of soil out of a hole not thirty inches deep. A
Turk, however, would settle the question by planting the mulberries in
untrenched land, or more probably by leaving them unplanted
altogether.

For five or six miles our road ran on by the edge of the sea, till at
length we reached our goal. Here a river or rather a wide
torrent--that of the Dog--has in the course of unnumbered aeons cut
for itself a path to the ocean between two bold, bare-shouldered
mountains. This stream is, or was, crossed by a fine stone bridge, but
the winter floods, coming down in their fury, have undermined its
piers and swept away several of the spans. At present no attempt has
been made to repair the wreck.

Above us, to be reached by a few minutes' scramble, ran the remains of
the old Roman, or mayhap Phoenician, road, cut in the face of the
precipice. Here, graven deep upon the flat surface of the rock, are
curious tablets, each of which marks the passage of some conqueror at
different periods of the world's history. Altogether there are about a
dozen of these inscriptions. The latest in date records the names of
the French generals who occupied the land so recently as 1860; the
earliest that of the Egyptian Pharaoh, whose standards shone in the
Syrian sun before Solomon sat upon the throne of Judah; the sign
manual of great Rameses, no less, for whose pleasure the Israelites
moulded their strawless bricks from the mud of Father Nile. The
Assyrian was here also, Sennacherib the king who flourished when
Rameses had been some seven centuries dead, and others great in their
day, whereof nothing now remains except a name and such monuments as
these. Each conqueror as he trod these shores thus stamped his seal
upon their cliffs, so that men unborn might learn the prowess of his
arms. It was a poor and primitive expedient to avoid the oblivion
which dogs even those at whose high-sounding titles whole nations
shook, yet not altogether ineffective. At least it brings their
exploits home to the minds of some few travellers thousands of years
after those who wrought them have mingled their dust with that of the
peoples whom they slaughtered. Will our daily press and voluminous
records do more, or as much, for the conquerors and conquests of
to-day? When the world has rolled along the path of another three
thousand years some traces of these tablets may still remain, and with
them traditions of the men who set them there. But who will remember,
let us say, the Boer war and the generals that fought its battles?

The flowers that sprang in the crevices of this old roadway were
beautiful and various. Doubtless the legions of Rameses and of
Sennacherib trod such beneath their feet. The frail lily of the field
is more immortal than the mightiest conqueror of the world. It serves
to weave his crown and to deck his feasts awhile, but the last triumph
is not for him, for in his dust it flourishes eternally.

That evening we went for a walk through the streets and suburbs of
Beyrout, amusing ourselves by watching the children of the city flying
kites in the strong wind, a pastime for which in Palestine they have a
passion. These kites, which are beautifully made, and decorated with
dozens of bright streamers, the lads manage with great skill,
contriving even to make their playthings fight in the air. Also we
examined the fishing-boats in process of construction upon the
seashore. They are built roughly, but very strongly, the uprights and
knees being fashioned of rudely-shaped pines. I imagine that the
Phoenicians of thousands of years ago must have sailed the ocean in
such vessels, if of somewhat larger tonnage.

Beyrout is a land of flowers. Already I saw Banksia roses and
Bougainvilleas in bloom, with many other creeping plants upon the
houses round which the new-come martins dipped and wheeled.

On returning to the hotel, a fairly comfortable place, whereof the
dining-room was decorated with the boughs and cones of the cedar of
Lebanon, now, I am sorry to learn, a scarce tree, we found the
/cavass/ from the British Consulate waiting with our /tezkerehs/.
These are documents of identification which the traveller in Syria is
required to fill in, giving a full account of his personal appearance,
age, height, parentage, and the rest, after which they must receive
the official stamp of his consul. It is a curious fact, showing how
little customs change in the East, that sundry of the earlier pilgrims
mention the necessity of providing themselves with similar descriptive
certificates.

Thus Wilibald, who visited the Holy Land in A.D. 724, says, "Nobody is
allowed to pass this place (Libanus) without letters of safe conduct,
those who are without such letters are seized and sent to Tyre."

Again, the monk Bernard the Wise, who travelled in 867, about 140
years later than Wilibald, mentions that at Bari "we obtained from the
Prince of the city, called the Sultan, the necessary arrangements for
our journey with two letters of safe conduct, describing our persons
and the objects of our journey, to the Prince of Alexandria and to the
Prince of Babylonia." Further on he says that on entering cities in
the Holy Land the pilgrims were never allowed to leave them until they
had "received a paper or impression of a seal."

The same habit obtains to-day, where the tourist's /tezkereh/ has to
be produced and stamped by the officials of each town he visits.

I do not think, however, that the English consuls have been much
troubled in this matter during the present year, when, either because
of the war, or for some other reason, but very few of their
compatriots have visited the Holy Land. Of Americans, however, there
are a good many.

The news of the relief of Ladysmith reached Beyrout upon the first day
of our visit. By the French element, which is important there, it was
ill received, but the rest of the population, both Christian and
Moslem, seemed pleased. Thus as I was reading the telegram which was
pinned upon a wall, an old Turk clapped me on the shoulder, and,
pointing to the cable, expressed his delight by pantomime. Indeed the
individual Turk is generally a friend to the English and a good
fellow. Of the Pashas and the government so much cannot be said. The
Maronites also appear to like us. When I was at the Dog River a young
man, who could speak a little broken English, came up to me and asked
for news of the war. I told him of the relief of Ladysmith, whereof I
had already learned by private wire, at which tidings he seemed
delighted. "Good people, English," he said, "good people! No make poor
men soldiers." Evidently my friend preferred the paths of peace, and
in this country would have voted against conscription.

That evening the sunset was beautiful. The sight of its colours
falling and fading while the twilight deepened over the swelling snows
of Lebanon, was one which I shall not easily forget.

Beyrout is a city of which the stranger, without local interests, is
apt to tire after the first few days. Indeed, when he has driven round
by the American seminary, inspected the pigeon rocks, where there are
no pigeons, and purchased lengths of camel-hair cloth, which English
tailors afterwards find almost impossible to make up, there is really
little left for him to do. Therefore I was not sorry when very early
one morning we rose, paid our bills, and under the care of the
fostering Cook, who, wonderful to relate, succeeded in recovering the
revolver, embarked upon the khedival steamer for Haifa, sixty or
seventy miles away, whence we had arranged to commence our journey
through the Holy Land. Fortunately the day was hot and fine, and
Beyrout looked bright and beautiful in the rays of the morning sun as
we steamed out of its harbour, although the Lebanon was half hidden in
a haze.

The collection of passengers on board was one of the most motley that
ever I saw. Forward were many pilgrims travelling to Mecca, of whom
presently. Aft, standing or sitting on the quarter-deck, were a party
of American maiden ladies; Levantines in fezes; Turkish officers in
rather shabby uniform; a Maronite priest with a tall cap; and four
Turkish women wrapped in black robes, and wearing various-coloured
/yashmaks/. In the case of the youngest and best-looking of the
quartet, this veil was of a perfectly diaphanous material; moreover
she found it necessary to remove it from time to time in order to
admire the view. The other ladies, who, to judge from their enormous
size, must have been elderly, were more correct, and managed to study
Lebanon through their /yashmaks/. But if they veiled their faces they
showed not the slightest objection to the display of limbs which the
female sex elsewhere conspires to hide. Thus the very stoutest of the
family, for doubtless they shared the same harem, by the simple act of
crossing them, revealed to the knee and higher the most gigantic pair
of yellow-stockinged legs that it ever was my lot to contemplate.
There she sat and mused, and there we stood and marvelled. Indeed my
nephew, graceless youth, actually fetched a camera and photographed
them. But, will it be believed, the modest instrument refused to act!
Out of all the plates brought home this one alone proved absolutely
blank.

At the invitation of the commander, Captain Peck, I went to sit upon
the bridge, a coign of vantage whence I could study the pilgrims on
the decks below. Among them was a party wearing astrakan caps, pious
travellers from far Afghanistan. They were accompanied by a servant
and seemed much cleaner in person than their fellow-passengers. Next
to these a man was engaged in chanting his prayers in a monotone, and
another in reading the Koran, also aloud. Further on sat a poet or
story-teller repeating rhymes or tales to an audience that listened
with more or less attention. Perhaps he publishes in Kandahar. On the
other side of the deck, in charge of an old woman, were several ladies
of doubtful pasts, or presents--one of them almost
good-looking--pilgrims, to what shrine I know not. Number three, tried
by the motion of the vessel, rests her head upon the knees of number
two, while number four smokes a /narghile/, and regards the follower
of the Prophet at his devotions opposite, with an air of philosophical
amusement. Cooking-pots, prayer-rugs, chatties of water, baskets of
food and oranges, all crowded together amid the prostrate forms lying
on the dirty deck, appropriately completed this various scene.

About midday we ran past green-sloped hills, broken here and there by
bays of yellow sand and stretches of orange gardens, where in bygone
ages stood the altars of that Ashtoreth


                            "whom the Phoenicians called
            Astarte, Queen of Heaven, with crescent horns;
            To whose bright image nightly by the moon
            Sidonian virgins paid their vows and songs."


Round this bay, doubtless, once rose the ancient Sidon, or its
suburbs, backed by a spur of Lebanon, and in the hills behind lies its
desecrated necropolis. The town, now a place without trade and of
little importance since the Druse Emir Fakh-reddin filled up the
southern harbour, like most of the forts and principal edifices of the
Phoenicians, was built upon a promontory faced by a little island.
From the northern end of this island runs a ridge or reef, protecting
the north harbour. Doubtless the existence of this natural breakwater
influenced the Phoenicians in choosing the site of the town, which in
the fulness of time became so great a city. The ancient inhabitants of
Sidon "Queen of Ships" were famous for their knowledge of the stars
and powers of navigation after sunset. Even to-day it is not difficult
to imagine her long trading galleys stealing out through the gap in
the reef at night on their difficult and dangerous journey to the
daughter colony of Carthage, and thence to Spain, Italy, Gaul, and
Britain.

Several sheiks clad in their picturesque Bedouin apparel boarded us
here to make the pilgrimage to Mecca. Among them was an old man
evidently of high position, since those who came to bid him farewell
kissed his hand and face with great respect and affection. At one
o'clock he walked aft near to where I was sitting, spread a
prayer-carpet, and began to sing and mutter his devotions, making many
prostrations, and from time to time touching the deck with his
forehead. Then he took up his beautiful rug, shook it, and departed,
leaving the vacant space to be occupied by another devotee.

It was towards evening when Captain Peck, pointing to a spot which
projected from a vast dim sweep of coast, said, "That is Tyre."
Further, with a courtesy for which I hereby return him my thanks, he
offered to take the vessel in as close as it was safe to do, that we
might have a good view of this place of renown. I surveyed it with a
curious and deep emotion. Behind the white houses lay long
dusky-coloured hills, and as seen from that distance--although in fact
it rises some miles to the south, for I imagine that this is the
mountain marked upon the maps as Tell Habesh--immediately to its rear
appeared a tumulus-like eminence. Beyond this again the coast-line
trends out to a sharp chalk-cliffed headland, known as the White Cape.

Strangely dead and desolate in the fast-fading lights of a winter day,
looked this fallen city backed by the far-off snows of Lebanon
wrapping that barren and forsaken land in their gigantic
winding-sheet. Lonesome, too, were the smooth dull sea whereon our own
was the only sail and the monotonous shore upon which it broke. Behind
the town, if so it can still be called, spreads a stretch of yellow
sand. Once this was beneath the water, but Alexander the Great, when
he besieged the city, built a causeway across the neck of sea out of
the materials of the continental settlement known as Palaetyrus, that
thereby he might come at the island forts. This causeway was 60 feet
wide by over 400 yards long; but since the conqueror's age the sands
have drifted over it, so that now island and coast are joined, and the
ancient harbours have silted up.

What a history has this place that in the beginning as to-day, was
called, not Tyre, but Sur, which means a rock. The Phoenicians built
it, or perhaps a people who were before them; Hiram (the contemporary
of Solomon) increased and adorned it, Shalmenezer, Nebuchadnezzar,
Alexander the Great, and Antigonus besieged and took it. Cleopatra
received it as a gift from the princely Anthony. St. Jerome celebrated
it as the richest and most lively city of Phoenicia and the East. The
Saracens occupied it, the Crusaders drove them out and held it for
generations. Lastly, the Moslems retook it, and to this hour stamped
it with their seal of ruin. It is sung of also by Isaiah and Ezekiel,
who prophesied its woe.

"Is this your joyous city whose antiquity is of ancient days?" Well
may the traveller ask that question of "the crowned city whose
merchants are princes, whose traffickers are the honourable of the
earth." In the old time, exalted by her pomp and wealth, Tyre said:--


  "I am a god, I sit in the seat of God in the midst of the sea,"
  and set her heart "as the heart of God." Therefore said the Lord
  God: "Behold I am against thee, O Tyrus, and will cause many
  nations to come up against thee, as the sea causes his waves to
  come up. And they shall destroy the walls of Tyrus and break down
  her towers: I will also scrape her dust from her, and make her
  like the top of a rock. It shall be a place for the spreading of
  nets in the midst of the sea: for I have spoken it, saith the Lord
  God: and it shall become a spoil for the nations. . . . And I will
  cause the voice of thy songs to cease; and the sound of thy harp
  shall be no more heard. And I will make thee like the top of a
  rock: thou shalt be a place to spread nets upon; thou shalt
  be built no more: for I the Lord hath spoken it, saith the Lord
  God. Thus said the Lord God to Tyrus: Shall not the isles shake at
  the sound of thy fall, when the wounded cry, when the slaughter is
  made in the midst of thee. . . . How art thou destroyed that wast
  inhabited of sea-faring men, the renowned city, which wast strong
  in the sea, she and her inhabitants. . . . !"


"A place for the spreading of nets!" Behold there on the rocks, where
stood her foots and palaces, the nets lie spread, drying for the use
of those humble fishermen, in whose veins runs the blood of the
merchants who were princes, and the traffickers who were the
honourable of the earth. What a town it must have been in those days
of the gorgeous Tyrian purple, when the mercenaries of Persia, and of
Lud, and of Phut were in her army, when "Syria was thy merchant by
reason of the multitude of the wares of thy making; they occupied in
thy fairs with emeralds, purple, and broidered work, and fine linen,
and coral and agate." And what a place it is now when the curse of the
Almighty is at work within its shattered walls.

The site of island Tyre, discrowned, dishonoured queen, fades into a
low projection, a mere grey blot upon the eternal waters that once she
ruled, and vanishes. Now before us lie the sands that Jesus trod,
still shining yellow in the last low lights of evening. These were the
sands also over which Paul passed when, after his sojourn in the city,
the Spirit demanded of him "that he should not go up to Jerusalem."
. . . "And they all brought us on our way, with wives and children,
till we were out of the city; and we kneeled down on the shore and
prayed. . . ."

Then down fell the swift curtain of Eastern night, and presently,
watching from the lofty bridge, I saw the red lamp of Acre abreast of
us, and to our right the lamp of Carmel, and to the left and ahead of
us the hundred lights of Haifa. So to Haifa we came at last over the
sleeping seas and dropped anchor in her harbour. Presently boats rowed
out to greet us, and in one of them the /cavass/ of the Consulate
which had thoughtfully been warned by wire of our arrival by Mr.
Drummond Hay, the British consul at Beyrout.

He was a gorgeous-looking man that /cavass/. Tyre in all its glory
could not have produced more splendid robes than those he wore, and
calm command sat throned upon his reflective brow. I worship no
dignity or pomp of place; the sound of title does not move me greatly,
who am content to be a humble unit floating with a million, million
others down the great sea of Time towards the night of Time's
oblivion, thankful that I am allowed to do my work and to earn my wage
as well or as ill as I am able, according to the lights and the powers
that are given me. Yet most of us are children at heart, and--I
confess my weakness--I could wish to occupy some position in the world
which would officially entitle me to retain the services of one or
two--nay, let the truth out--of a whole half-dozen of Syrian
/cavasses/. There is something about these magnificent creatures and
their glorious and appropriate garments that excites my fancy and its
desires. I should like to walk to and fro guarded by such splendid
servitors, to awake them from the solemn and majestic idleness wherein
they spend their sunny days, saying to this one "Go," and watching him
as he goeth, and to the other "Come," making sure that he cometh with
speed. It would give me pleasure to despatch them to lead the
wondering and awestruck traveller within my gates, even though I knew
that presently, when I was out of sight, they would relieve the said
traveller of a trifling fee to the value of five shillings, made, in
the corresponding number of piastres, to seem a sum magnificent and
worthy the acceptance of the great.

The particular representative of this privileged class whose mien and
appearance moved me to these reflections, at once took us under his
wing, and in the most open fashion added our revolvers to the
collection of weapons of war which were bound about his middle. Well
he knew, indeed, that no mere port official would dare to interfere
with him; no, not if he brought ashore a Maxim gun, pretending that it
was for purposes of personal defence. So wide was that sheltering wing
of his in truth that it covered quite a number of American ladies, who
wisely tacked themselves on to our party, thereby avoiding all trouble
with the Turkish customs.

At the hotel we found our dragoman awaiting us. A first interview with
a person so very important to the traveller's comfort during the time
that he is in his charge as a dragoman, is, in a small way, momentous,
since on the mutual impression then produced a great deal may depend.
On this occasion it was satisfactory.

The dragoman, David by name, was a Christian. Before he took to his
present profession he had been a teacher in a school in Jerusalem, and
after that, dresser to the British hospital at Tiberias, an occupation
which he abandoned through inability to bear the smell of the
anaesthetics that he was continually called upon to administer. Here
it was that he learnt to speak English so well, a very necessary
qualification for his present trade. For the rest, he was slight and
dark, about thirty years of age, a teetotaller, and I should say of a
somewhat melancholy temperament. Perhaps the task of conducting
parties round the Holy Land for years on years induces depression even
in the dragoman who profits by them.

With the help of David we settled finally upon our route. It was
agreed that we should travel to Nazareth, from Nazareth to the Sea of
Galilee, from the Sea of Galilee to Mount Tabor, thence across the
Plain of Esdaelon to Jenin and Nablus, and so round to Jerusalem,
whence we proposed to visit Jericho and the Dead Sea.

In arranging such a tour many things have to be considered--horses,
weight of baggage, possible accommodation, endurance of the
travellers, the time at their disposal, and, above all, the weather
and the condition of the roads, or what in Syria are called roads.
These matters being at length determined after much discussion, we
parted for the night, David adjuring us to be up early on the
following morning.

So to bed, as old Pepys says. I for one was by no means sorry to get
there.



                              CHAPTER XV

                        NAZARETH AND TIBERIAS

On the following morning, after breakfast, which in hotels in the Holy
Land consists of tea or coffee, two eggs, not much larger than those
of bantams, and native jam, or honey from Lebanon, David arrived
beautifully attired in a gold-laced garment, with a large revolver
strapped on to him. He told us that the horses were come so we went
out to look at them, and returned rather crestfallen. They were sorry
brutes on which to ride for many days over rough and roadless country,
although, like all entire horses, they held their heads well. In fact,
the poor little animals, that under different treatment would have
been serviceable, if second-class Arabs, had been starved and
overworked. However, there were none others to be found. Haifa at any
time is a bad place at which to obtain transport animals, but as it
happened, the whole country had been swept of horses by a gigantic
cheap American trip numbering over five hundred souls, with some of
whom we were destined to become acquainted. Therefore our choice was
that which tradition has ascribed to Mr. Hobson. It was these horses
or none at all.

I was asked to choose mine, and, guided by my African experience of
many years ago when I had a good deal to do with horses, I passed over
the larger and stronger-looking brown animal and selected a little
grey scaffolding of a nag. In this it seems that my judgment did not
fail me, since the brown proved to be a veritable death-trap, and I
was heartily glad when my nephew rode it into Nazareth without a bad
fall or broken limb. My steed proved quite safe and stumbled not at
all. Indeed the front half of him was excellent--a pretty little head
that champed the bit and even tried to run away, an arched neck, a
good shoulder, and a pair of sound and sure-footed fore-legs. But once
past the line of the girths, oh! what a falling off was there; indeed
he had no quarters to speak of, so wasted were they, and this hind
pair of legs were very, very weak. Indeed it was by no means uncommon
for him to drop so sharply on one or the other of them for five or six
successive steps that at the end of a day's journey my spine felt as
though it had been twisted. Especially did this happen going up or
down steep hills. David's pony was smaller, and even more thin, but
had the merit of being sure-footed and an excellent walker, a
wonderful advantage in such a country where five-sixths of the road
must be covered at a foot pace. Then there were two baggage animals, a
horse and a mule, the former ridden by the muleteer who owned all the
beasts, and the latter by his black assistant, both of them perched
atop of the great piles of luggage and equipment.

It was ten o'clock or so before the baggage was packed and loaded up
and we had departed under a raking and deadly fire from the kodaks of
the American ladies. Strange customers shall we appear in the
photographic albums of Pa. and Ma. and Kansas, U.S.A., or whatever
other states our kindly acquaintances may adorn.

Our road took us through the town of Haifa, once called Sycaminum.
This place is beautifully situated upon the south shore of the Bay of
Acre, but to-day more notable perhaps for the pleasant-looking houses
of the German colony who dwell there--their very box-like primness
delights the eye full fed with Syrian squalor--than for anything else.
Having stopped to pay a short call upon the consul, where I saw my
friend the /cavass/ looking quite civilian and domestic in his morning
clothes, we cantered through the narrow streets on to the road to
Nazareth.

This road is one of the few that exist in the Holy Land. Like the new
pier at Haifa, which cost several thousand pounds, and is quite
unserviceable, it was constructed for the especial use of the German
Emperor on the occasion of his recent visit to Palestine. In fact his
Majesty never used it as he abandoned the idea of a pilgrimage to
Nazareth and the Sea of Galilee, preferring to toil along the coast to
Jaffa and thence take the train to Jerusalem. When first completed,
perhaps, it was a good road of a sort, but after two winters' rains it
is--what may be imagined. Still carriages are dragged through its ruts
and quagmires.

On our right as we rode out of Haifa rose Mount Carmel, where the
prophets were hid by fifty in a cave, and on our left ran a piece of
the railway to Damascus which somebody began and never finished.
Travelling on we crossed the wide plain and the brook Kishon, where
the prophets of Baal were brought down to be slaughtered, I suppose
that its waters might take their accursed blood and bodies out to sea.
This plain is very marshy and we found considerable difficulty in
making our way through one of the mud-holes on the road; indeed the
baggage animals had to go round up the side of a mountain. It was here
that we met a number of mounted soldiers, sullen-looking, ill-clad
fellows armed with rifles of a somewhat antiquated pattern. They were
hastening into Haifa to attend the funeral of the Turkish governor,
who had died suddenly during the night.

The slopes of the Carmel range above us were clothed with wild carobs
which nobody takes the trouble to graft and turn to profit. In the
deep kloofs of these mountains also many wild bears are to be found.
Crossing Kishon we struggled against the wind that tore seawards along
its course, through a stretch of marsh starred with yellow lilies and
purple orchis such as I find here in Norfolk, up that gorge whence
Sisera is said to have advanced with his army before he met his death
at the hands of the patriotic but treacherous Jael. At length, riding
over park-like hills covered with beautiful oaks of a species that I
do not know, just then breaking into green and tender leaf, we came to
a spot commanding a view of the highest part of Carmel whither after
the great drought Elijah sent his servant seven times to look across
the ocean for signs of the coming rain. Below it and about three miles
away on a lesser hill marked by a tree, is the very spot where took
place the fearful conflict between the prophet and the priests of
Baal, while beneath rolled the wide plain of Jezreel, dull and endless
to the eye in the dense shadow of a rain-cloud.

On the top of a ridge we stopped to lunch among the ancient oaks. The
provision of this or any other meal caused us no anxiety; we had
nothing to do with the matter, being so to speak "taken in" at so much
a head. The finding of food, and indeed of everything except wine and
mineral waters, is the dragoman's affair under the contract, and he
produces the same out of sundry bags which are tied upon the various
animals. The liquor department, however, must be attended to by his
principal. I mention the fact in the interest of any future traveller
who may happen to read this book, for the matter is important. Water
in Palestine is always doubtful, and frequently poisonous. To drink it
may mean typhoid fever or dysentery. Therefore, it is most needful
that there should be a proper supply of wine and Apollinaris, or, at
least, of boiled water. The same thing applies in hotels. In whatever
direction the tourist economises, let it not be in what he drinks.

The spot where we picnicked was lovely. Amidst those primeval oaks and
the water-worn rocks cropping from the soil around us the ground was
carpeted, in fact, and not in name, with the most beauteous anemones,
red and pure white in colour, that ever it was my lot to see,
diversified on the more stony spots with clumps of flowering cyclamen.
From all about, also, rose the curious chirping sound of grasshoppers,
while above us, in the blue depths between the threatening clouds,
hovered kites and falcons. To our right lay the road where, through
the trees, strings of camels were passing, among them more soldiers
hastening to the pasha's funeral, and unveiled women riding upon
asses, or staggering along beneath titanic loads of firewood.

Presently, the restless David informed us that it was time to start.
The horses, that had been tied to bushes without food to prevent them
from rolling with their loads upon their backs, were bridled, and off
we went along a fearful track of miles of mud sloughs (the German
Emperor's new road), till at length we began to ascend the stony hills
of Galilee. Sticking, floundering, and thrashing, we reached their
crest, and far below us saw the village of Nazareth, a straggling
Eastern township situated upon the lower slopes of rounded, rocky
hills, which at this season of the year are literally sheeted with
blue iris and with cyclamen.

Yes, there lay Nazareth, the holy spot, that like thousands of other
pilgrims in every generation, for years I had desired to see. How is
it possible for even the most cynical and faithless to look upon that
place save with a heart of deepest reverence? Discard the war of
sites, and that worse war of the quarrelling sects. Let the loud
speech of arguing travellers pass from your ears, and remember only
that this is Nazareth, the place where He lived who has influenced our
world most profoundly of any of its sons. Surely we should consider it
in this spirit, and in no other. Look, there in a hollow of the hills
the ploughman drives his oxen; there the sower goes forth to sow;
there a fig pushes its first leaves, showing that summer is nigh.
Yonder in the wayside shop, also, the carpenter plies his trade, and
at our feet bloom the painted lilies of the field. Every stone of
these mountains, from which on many a day Christ must have watched the
dawn begin to burn upon the plains of Jezreel, every fertile fold of
those valleys were familiar to His eyes. He loved them, we may be
sure, as even we common men love the natural objects that present
themselves about the home where we were bred, only, doubtless, more
intensely, more purely, with a deeper insight and a truer imagination.
As a lad, perhaps like yonder child, the Saviour herded sheep and
goats among these starting rocks, to while away the time, plucking the
cyclamen and iris, and watching the flocks of finches seek their food
among the thistles. As a man He may have worked those ancient
ploughlands, taking His share of the simple labours of the family to
which He belonged. In short, within this circle that the sight
commands, for thirty years or more the Almighty dwelt on earth,
acquiring in an humble incarnation one side of that wisdom which has
changed the world. Here is the master fact that makes this perhaps the
most holy ground in the entire universe, and, in its face, what does
it matter which was the exact site of the Annunciation or of the shop
of Joseph?

Nazareth lies in a basin, and its white houses run up the slopes of
the surrounding hills. The soil in the sheltered valleys must be
fertile, since here are groves of figs and olives hedged with great
fences of prickly pear. Probably, omitting certain modern buildings in
western style, the appearance of the little town looked at from a
distance is not dissimilar to that which it presented in the time of
our Lord. At least, the country must be absolutely the same, even down
to the very rocks which lie by the wayside. The population, also, both
in dress and person, perhaps may not have varied much, although some
writers think that it has received a strong dash of white blood, I
cannot say upon what evidence. Certainly, however, I saw some children
that were quite fair in colouring, but, as St. Antoninus, writing at
the beginning of the seventh century, mentions the beauty of the women
of Nazareth, it is obvious that this, at any rate, is not due to an
admixture of the stock of the Crusaders. To this day that beauty is
remarkable, for I observed it myself, and it was curious to reflect
that among the people whom the traveller meets in Nazareth are, very
possibly, some of the descendants of the brethren of the Lord removed
from them only by the stepping-stones of fifty or sixty short human
generations. This seems the more likely, as I cannot discover that the
inhabitants of the township were ever slaughtered out wholesale, or
carried away into captivity.

Many sites are shown in Nazareth, among them two of the actual spot of
the Annunciation and a cave or cistern said to have been the Virgin's
kitchen. Then there is the workshop of Joseph, the stone table upon
which our Lord is reported to have eaten with His disciples both
before and after the Resurrection, whereof, however, nothing was heard
before the seventeenth century, and the synagogue where He taught, a
small building no longer in the hands of the Jews. Of the authenticity
of any of these relics or localities nothing is to be said, except
that obviously they cannot all be right. Nothing except this--that
here was the home of Mary, and here the Saviour lived for thirty
years. What more can be needed?

One spot there is, however, that He must often have visited as a child
and man, for there is no other water in Nazareth--the spring called
Mary's Well. This gushes out beneath an arch which, although ancient
enough, has, I suppose, been built, or rebuilt, several times since
the day of our Lord. Here in the morning and the evening come the
women of Nazareth with their children to fetch the household supply of
water in narrow-necked earthenware pitchers or chatties, which they
bear upon their heads. Some, I am sorry to say, are beginning to
replace these ancient and graceful vessels with square-shaped paraffin
tins. Evidently this spring is the favourite gossiping-ground of the
community, for while the children play about outside, or upon the roof
of the arch, their mothers and sisters wash their feet in the overflow
waters, and chatter away to each other of the news or scandal of the
hour. So it would always have been. Hither day by day Mary must have
come bearing the empty pitcher balanced sideways upon her head and
leading the infant Jesus by the hand. Here, too, in manhood, when
weary with toil in the summer heat, Christ may often have sat at even
and perhaps have taught those who lingered round the fountain.

This well lies on the outskirts of Nazareth, so that a few minutes'
walk from it takes the visitor into the country. The flowers that I
noticed here were anemones, ranunculi just showing for bloom, a
variety of wild orchis with which I am unacquainted, cyclamen, blue
iris (in sheets), asphodel, and, about a mile out of Nazareth, a
single patch of English daisies. The birds in addition to the usual
crows and falcons were the new-come swallows, the common sparrow that
here seems to build in crannies of the walls, and the beautiful
goldfinches of which I saw flocks numbering as many as thirty or
fifty. I have never seen the goldfinch pack like this in England,
perhaps because it is comparatively rare.

On arrival we found our inn crowded with a portion of the countless
American company who had absorbed all the horses in Palestine and were
now on the way back to Haifa where their vessel lay. Their conductor
who, as I suppose, to make himself more easily visible to the items of
his vast troop, was clad in flowing Eastern robes, a kindly and very
agreeable member of the American nation, told us a moving tale which
suggests that such a post is no sinecure. He took his flock, or some
of it, to inspect, I think, that ancient roll of the Samaritan law
which is kept in the synagogue at Nablus. Here, when the /kohen/ was
not looking, one of them tore a corner off the manuscript. The theft
was detected and complaint made. Thereupon my friend the conductor
summoned the party and addressed them upon the iniquity of such an act
in terms so moving that the conscience of the spoiler was worked upon
with such effect that he restored the missing fragment.

"When, however," continued the conductor, "on the very next day I saw
that same fellow sitting upon the capital of a fallen marble column
and smashing the carvings off it with a hammer, well, sir, I assure
you that I never felt more like knocking a man down in my life. And,
sir, he was a minister!"

Let us hope, by the way, that it was the copy of the ancient
Pentateuch, which is frequently shown to travellers as the original,
that was mutilated by this pious person. Apropos of the above story an
American lady told me at Jerusalem that she met the same party in
Egypt and at one time saw a whole collection of them--I think she said
eight or ten--seated upon the head of the sphinx and engaged, every
one, in trying to knock fragments from it with stones. She added that
she had never felt ashamed of her countrymen before.

This reminds me of a still more heinous story--I do not vouch for
it--which in Cyprus I was told of a certain traveller. The traveller,
a man of practical mind, visited a famous shrine where a holy lamp had
been kept burning for five, and, as some said, for seven hundred
years. An ancient monk showed him the lamp. "Yes, noble Pilgrim," he
said, "I have watched it for sixty years and the good father who was
before me, he tended it for seventy-one, so that the everlasting flame
has had but two guardians in a hundred and thirty years."

"And before that?" asked the traveller.

"Before that, noble Pilgrim? Ah! we do not know. All we know, for the
books show it, is that the everlasting flame has not been out for five
hundred years; it is said indeed for eight hundred, but that is
tradition. Here is a copy of the book--would his Excellency like to
see it"--and the monk turned to reach down the volume.

"Never been out?" /Puff/. "Well," added the traveller reflectively,
"any way I guess that it is out now!"

When this gentleman--I mean, not the practical traveller, but the
manager of the American caravan--whose name I regret to say I cannot
remember, heard of our plight about horses, kindly he promised to send
two of the best he had to meet us several days later on the top of
Mount Tabor. The animals, he said, were engaged to return to
Jerusalem, and might as well carry us there as not. So we parted, but
alas! as shall be told in its place, though through no fault of his,
we never saw those horses.

As no other steeds were obtainable we started for Tiberias on our own,
my nephew changing his brown nag, however, which on three or four
occasions had nearly fallen with him, for a wretched but sure-footed
little rat of a baggage pony, that if not walking could only travel at
a jerky trot. The muleteer who owned him declared that the brown horse
was perfectly right, only a little stiff, and having strapped the
luggage on to its back, proceeded to show his faith by mounting on the
top. At the first mud-hole I heard a scuffle behind me, and, looking
round, to my secret joy, saw the poor brute on its nose and his owner
in the mire. After this he dismounted, and drove it through all bad
places.

Passing up and over the long hill beyond Nazareth, we saw Saffuriyeh
below us, which is the Sepphoris of Josephus, once the capital of
Galilee, and, after the destruction of Jerusalem, the seat of the
great Sanhedrim. Leaving this village on our left we rode across more
steep hills to the valley of Kafr Kenna, which is believed to be the
Cana of that marriage feast where the water was turned to wine.
Beneath us lay the mud-built hamlet, looking much as it must have done
when our Lord walked down to it with His mother to be present at the
wedding, and on the road thither the spring from which the water would
have been drawn that was made wine. Here, as at Nazareth, we found a
number of women and children engaged in carrying water from the well
to the village.

Riding on between hedges of prickly pears we came to a Greek church,
the traditional site of the miracle, although that is disputed by the
Latins. Built into the walls of this church, which, when we entered
it, was being used for the purposes of a school, were two stone
measures, capable, I should say at a guess, of holding five or six
gallons apiece. These are shown as some of the actual vessels that
held the water which Christ turned into wine. Whether they are the
same is more than doubtful, but at least they appear to be of the
pattern and period, and have been exhibited for many generations.

Leaving Kenna we rode by execrable roads, towards what is alleged to
be the Hill of the Beatitudes, where the Sermon on the Mount was
delivered, although, of course, there is a rival, and, to my mind,
more probable site, in the neighbourhood of the ruins of Capernaum.
This mountain, which is named Karn Hattin, is a lonely hill standing
in a great plain remarkable for the extraordinary beauty and variety
of its wild flowers. In places, especially under olives on old
cultivated ground, the earth was one pink flush, produced by thousands
of a small, many-headed bloom, with which I am not acquainted.
Elsewhere it was quite blue with a gorgeous giant vetch, or lupin,
that grows among springing corn, while everywhere appeared iris and
anemones, many in this place of a magenta hue mixed among the commoner
whites and scarlets. Probably, on account of its size, this lupin is,
I find, not included in the delightful and interesting little book,
"Wild Flowers from Palestine," gathered and pressed by the Rev. Harvey
Greene, B.D.

It was strange to look at that desolate and untenanted mountain, and
reflect that here upon its slopes--for the question between this and
the rival site a few miles away at Capernaum, is purely a matter of
opinion--may have sat those multitudes to whom were spoken the words
which will echo through the world for ever, concentrating as they do
the whole body of the Christian law. I believe it is admitted that
this immortal and transcendent sermon was preached in the spring-time,
and whether or no its sentences were uttered among these rocks,
certainly the flowers blooming in such profusion about the place seem
to bring home to the mind with new force and vividness those sayings
which begin: "Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow." That
other saying also, "Behold the fowls of the air, they sow not neither
do they reap nor gather into barns," might well have been inspired by
the sight of the flocks of storks which at this season visit the
plains about Mount Tabor, and may perhaps have been wandering to and
fro within sight of Jesus as He preached. The greatest genius that has
adorned the world would naturally have pointed His morals with
convincing similes taken from the life, animate and inanimate, which
presented itself about Him and must therefore come home to the mind of
every listener, however ignorant or obtuse. Indeed, in the case of
either side, this reflection applies equally.

It was upon this flowery mead on July 4, 1187, that the great Saladin
shattered the strength of the Crusaders. The Christians were fighting
with the reputed true Cross itself set up to inspire them, around
which, wrote Saladin, "the Franks flew like moths round light." Says
the Mussulman writer: "It was then that the sons of Paradise and
children of fire fought out their terrible quarrel; the arrows sounded
in the air like the noisy flight of birds; the water of swords, the
blood of arrows spouted out from the bosom of the mêlée and covered
the earth like the waters of rain."

The Christians were driven back upon the hill of Hattin, and there,
victims to burning thirst and the swords of the Saracens, they
perished by thousands. "I saw," writes the secretary of Saladin, "the
hills, the plains, the valleys covered with their dead bodies; I saw
their colours abandoned and soiled with blood and dust; I saw their
heads struck off, their members dispersed, and their carcases piled up
like stones."

Next day the Templar knights and those of St. John who still lived,
were brought before the Sultan, and to each of the Emirs and doctors
of the Law he gave his royal permission to butcher an unarmed
Christian.

Such is the story of the fall of the Cross and the triumph of the
Crescent at this battle of Hattin, sad enough reading even to the
Christian of to-day.

Before we reached the mountain we met, trailing across the plain for a
mile or over, some two hundred of that band of American travellers
with whom we had become acquainted at Nazareth. They were all mounted,
and, as we approached, certain of them greeted us with facetious cries
of /Baksheesh/, stretching out their hands in imitation of Arab
beggars. In those surroundings to my taste the joke seemed out of
place.

Their gathering was motley, including, as I noticed, a good many
ministers of different denominations. Its most striking feature,
however, was afforded by the ladies of the party. Nearly all of these,
even those who were provided with women's saddles, rode
straddle-legged, after the fashion of men, a sight which I do not
remember to have seen before except among peasants in the far North.
The general effect struck me as inelegant and even unseemly. Their
attire also was in some instances peculiar; thus, one young lady was
clothed in an ordinary skirt much rucked up and a pair of enormous
Syrian top-boots. Another, although the day was warm and dry, wore a
shiny macintosh which also had ascended in obedience to natural laws.
One fine-looking girl, however, sat her pony, a spirited Arab, like a
centaur. I never saw any one with a closer or a better grip of a
horse, and I imagine that wherever she came from she must have broken
many a colt. But perhaps these criticisms are born of the merest
prejudice. In every department of life it is nowadays easy to grow
old-fashioned.

The Americans vanished and the reputed Mount of Beatitudes receded,
till at length, riding to the top of a ridge, we saw far beneath us
the blue lake of Galilee, sparkling in the sunlight and surrounded by
its immense circle of green hills.

"Look," said the dragoman, David, pointing to a white speck on the
north shore of the sea, "there is Capernaum!"

That--Capernaum, the great and flourishing city that was "exalted unto
Heaven," that white dot--a monastery, as they say inhabited, but by a
single priest. And the others--Chorazin and Bethsaida? The same, a
desolation. Not even a monastery here, nothing but stones and some
Bedouin tents which at this distance we could not discern.

Then we began the descent. It reminded me of that which once I made to
one of the most striking and desolate places in the world, the gloomy
rift of Thring-Vellir, where a thousand years ago the aristocratic
republic of Iceland held its stormy and blood-stained parliaments.
Now, after a long scramble down steep slopes of turf, to cut corners
in the abominable road, of a sudden the city came into view. Tiberias
is a crowded town set upon the shores of the great lake, surrounded
with a crumbling wall and commanded by a fort in the last stage of
decadence. The very arch beneath which we entered now consists of a
single span of tottering stone. Indeed, it is marvellous that these
have not long ago fallen upon the head of some unlucky passenger.

We went to our hostelry, a tidy place kept as usual by Germans, and
off-saddled there. After refreshing ourselves with tea and oranges, of
which after our long hot ride we stood much in need, we set out to
explore Tiberias, the abode, according to the natives, of the King of
all the Fleas.

Heavens! what a filthy place was that. The king of all the stenches
must dwell there also. The bazaars are narrow and foul beyond
conception; along some of them I could only pass with a handkerchief
held before my face. Down the centre of these pestilential streets
flow gutters full of every beastly refuse; there too sit and wander
the population of Tiberias. As I had been informed that this city was
for the most part occupied by Jews, I was curious to see them,
thinking that upon their native soil we should find representatives of
the race more or less as it was when it defied the Roman eagles. I was
destined to disappointment. Here were no hawk-eyed, stern-faced men
such as I had pictured. Here even was no Hebrew as we know him,
strenuous, eager, healthy, and cosmopolitan.

Far different are these Jews, for the most part of Russian or Polish
origin, who dwell in Tiberias. At a little distance in their
dressing-gown-like robe it is not easy to say whether individuals are
men or women. Indeed, even when studied face to face their aspect is
singularly sexless. Their complexions are curiously pallid and
unwholesome, while the hair of the men, often of a burning red, is
arranged in two thin curls, which hang down oilily on either side of
the forehead in front of the ears, like spare ringlets from the
/chevelures/ of our great-aunts. I asked David, who had dwelt among
them for years, what this curious-looking folk did for a living. He
replied--

"Oh! they just sit about."

So far as I could learn this seems to describe the facts, but I
understand that the means to sit about on are, for the most part,
subscribed by charitable Hebrews in Europe and elsewhere. Many of the
men are, however, engaged in a study of the Talmud, an occupation for
which Tiberias is traditionally famous.

When I add that, whatever the season, they wear tall black hats and
skin capes; that some of the female children look pretty, though not
strong; and that the adults, or individuals among them, are not averse
to driving a trade in doubtful antiquities, it is all that I have to
say of the Jews of Tiberias and their noisome habitations.

First, David led us to a Greek monastery, in the yard of which stands
a vaulted building used as a rubbish place, said to be part of that
palace occupied by the Sanhedrim after it was driven from Sepphoris.
Thence, passing down more dreadful alleys--what would happen if they
got the plague in them?--we emerged to the south of the town and
walked along the road which runs to the hot baths. Here, as the ruins
that lie on every hand bear witness, was the site of Roman Tiberias,
built by Herod just before the mission of our Lord. The Saviour seems,
however, never to have entered it, perhaps because it was a purely
foreign city. On the cave-pierced hill above, set there no doubt to
catch the cool evening breeze, is said to have stood the palace of
Herod, while jutting into the lake are the wrecks of ancient walls and
towers. The road itself runs through some temple, for in its centre,
worn to the level of the pathway, stands the base of a marble column,
and all about are other such remains. Having inspected them, but
stopping short of the hot springs, we returned to Tiberias. On this
occasion we kept outside the walls to avoid the smells, and were
followed to our lodging by Jews who wished to buy the photographic
camera and to sell us glass dug from the Roman tombs.

I omitted to state that in one of the bazaars I saw a man hawking
sparrows. He offered them for sale by twos, each brace tied to a
string. I worked out the price asked as well as I was able, and,
comparing it with the value of money in our Lord's time, found that it
was about equivalent to the Roman farthing that was paid for two, or
the two farthings for five, a bird being thrown in, doubtless, to the
customer who took the full number. Truly, such things change but
little in the East. Truly, also, the sight of them makes much clear to
the mind which before it has failed to grasp. That is why a visit to
the Holy Land is in itself an education to people who undertake it in
the right spirit, and do not suffer themselves to be overwhelmed by
discomforts and other annoyances. Without seeing the country itself
there is much of the Old Testament which it is difficult to
understand. The same may be said of the New, if in a less degree.

Thus, to take a very minor but still interesting illustration, the
allusion in Matthew vi. to the "grass of the field which to-day is,
and to-morrow is cast into the oven," always puzzled me, as I could
not understand why grass should be used for the heating of ovens. Nor
did commentaries help me much. Thus the International Teachers'
Edition of the Bible, the best and most useful that I know, says that
the grass of the field as spoken of here "indicates all herbs of the
field." In Cyprus and the Holy Land, however, I observed donkeys and
women laden with great bundles of a grey prickly growth, the stalks of
wild thyme, I believe, though of this I am not certain, and inquired
its purpose. Then I learned that this growth is invariably used by the
bakers to heat their ovens. It has the property of burning with a
clear, hot flame, but without smoke, and therefore leaves the interior
of the oven, after the ashes have been withdrawn, clean and fit to
receive the bread. Can any one doubt that this was the "grass of the
field" that is "cast into the oven" to which the Saviour alluded, or
that He drew His illustration from the still common sight of the
passing women bearing it in bundles on their heads to be sold in the
cities of the Lake?



                             CHAPTER XVI

                          THE SEA OF GALILEE

At night the Sea of Galilee is very beautiful. The crescent moon
sinking to the horizon, the myriad stars reflected from the breast of
the water, the soft distant line of the opposing hills--where of old
dwelt the Gergezenes--the hush of the heavy air, the brooding calm
broken only by barking pariah dogs; all these compose a picture and
leave impressions that the mind cannot easily forget.

Tiberias is a hot town, so hot that, as the German hotel-keeper told
me, it is impossible for many months of the year to sleep except upon
the roof. Even now in the spring the thermometer must have stood at
nearly eighty degrees in the shade, and the sun was so powerful that I
was glad to wear a bath-towel as a puggaree. Also on the first night
that we passed there we were favoured with another evidence of the
genial nature of the climate. My bed was protected with gauze
curtains, which I thought were drawn with care, but about two in the
morning I awoke to find myself the centre of a hive of mosquitoes. The
next hour we employed in somewhat ineffective hunting and in doctoring
the lumps with native brandy. If, as science has demonstrated of late,
the bit of a common swamp mosquito conveys malarial fever, what
disease ought to follow that of those members of the family which have
been nurtured on the filth-heaps of Tiberias? I confess that having
recently read a good deal about the subject, the problem quite alarmed
me. Leaving these possibilities aside, however, I never remember
meeting mosquitoes more venomous, or that left larger lumps with a
keener itch, then those of Tiberias, except, perhaps, some with which
I made acquaintance on the rivers of Chiapas, in Central America.

When we rose on the following morning I was dismayed to find that
although the wind was not really strong, the sea upon the lake was so
considerable that it seemed doubtful whether we should be able to sail
to the mouth of the Jordan. This is a voyage which the Tiberias
boatmen absolutely refuse to make in bad or squally weather, knowing
that now, as in the times of our Lord, it is easy to be drowned on the
Lake of Galilee, where a very violent and dangerous sea gets up with
extraordinary swiftness. However, at last our men made up their minds
to try it, and off we started to that Greek monastery which we had
visited on the previous afternoon, where the boat awaited us.

I was not quite prepared for what followed. Arriving at the
landing-place we saw our boat pitching and rolling furiously about
twenty yards from the beach, while between us and it, breakers, large
enough to constitute a respectable sea upon the Norfolk coast, rushed
shorewards in quick succession.

"Might I ask how----" I began, but before I got any further two
stalwart Arabs, their garments tucked beneath their armpits, amid a
chorus of frantic yells and objurgations from every one concerned,
seized me, and, hoisting me most insecurely on to their shoulders,
plunged into the foam. The moment was ill-chosen, for just then
arrived a series of bigger waves than any that had gone before. We
were brought to a standstill; we shook, we bowed, we rocked to and
fro, while now my legs and now other portions of my frame dipped
gently in the deep. I was certain that all was lost, and that
presently, in company with these infernal boatmen, I should be
wallowing at the bottom of the Sea of Galilee, spoiling my watch and
my temper. Suddenly they made a last despairing rush, however, the
waves surging round their very necks, and reached the boat, into which
I scrambled and rolled I know not how. Afterwards, profiting by my
experience, which taught them how to sit and what to sit on, also by
the fact that they were lighter weights, my nephew and David followed
me on board, I regret to state without the ducking their loud-voiced
mockery of my woes deserved. However, before another hour was gone by
I had the laugh of both of them.

When all were aboard we began our journey, heading for the mouth of
Jordan, which, at a guess, lies eight or nine miles away. As there was
no wind that would serve us, furling the sail, we depended on our
oars. The sea was very rough, quite as rough as I cared for in this
small boat, although she was staunch and good, having been brought
here from Beyrout for the especial comfort of the Emperor of Germany,
who, as it chanced, never visited the place. The continual tossing
soon proved too much for David, who collapsed into the bottom of the
boat, and lay there--a very dilapidated dragoman. My nephew, who had
been an oar at college, volunteered to assist in the arduous and
continual labour of rowing, but, to the joy of the boatmen, did not
get on quite so well as he expected in those unaccustomed waters. The
voyage was lonesome, for on all that great expanse of sea, once the
home of fleets, I could see no other craft. Indeed, we were not sorry
when at length the weather began to moderate, and occasional gusts of
favouring wind enabled us to use our sails at times.

Still, the experience was interesting, for ploughing thus through the
stormy waves it seemed easy to enter into the feelings of the
Apostles--who also were heading for Capernaum--when about this spot
they were struck at the fall of night by the squall that nearly
swamped them. What a sight must these waters have witnessed in that
hour, when suddenly as they struggled forward, doing their best after
the fashion of the skilled boatmen of the lake, to keep head on to
those hissing seas, they perceived the Divine figure gliding over
their crests towards them. And again in that hour when upon another
occasion "the ship was covered with the waves: but He was asleep, and
His disciples came to Him and woke Him, saying, 'Lord, save us: we
perish.' And He saith unto them, 'Why are ye fearful, O ye of little
faith?' Then He arose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was
a great calm. But the men marvelled, saying, 'What manner of man is
this, that even the winds and the sea obey him?'" To read these
passages, as it was my good fortune to do, while tossing tempestuously
upon the lake of Galilee, the exact site of the occurrences they
describe, and under circumstances not dissimilar in kind, although
different in degree, is to learn much. So sluggish is our imagination
that to appreciate such matters rightly and in full, actual experience
of their like is necessary. Here that befell us.

After some hours of rowing the sea went down in the sudden fashion
which is common upon Galilee, and by the help of a favouring draught
of wind we came at last to where the muddy waters of Jordan run with
turbulence into the lake, bringing down much débris, and raising
large, backward-curling waves. For a little while we sailed up the
river, studying the black camel-hair tents of the Bedouin encampment
upon its banks, and the Arabs, men, women, and children, who loitered
round them. Then we put about and rowed through perfectly calm water
past the stony desolate site that now goes by the name of Tel Hûm,
where it is believed the ancient city stood. At any rate here was an
ancient city, though whether this was Capernaum or Bethsaida is a
matter of dispute. My own theory, which I suggest with all humility,
is that both Bethsaida by its side and Chorazin above, may in practice
have been suburbs of the main town of Capernaum. At least it is
certain that in the old days all this country, now an utter waste, was
very densely populated, and it must have been difficult to know
exactly where one city ended and the next began.

Passing the spot called Heptapegon, or Seven Springs, which many
authorities believe to be the place of the miraculous feeding of the
five thousand recorded by St. Mark, we reached the monastery of the
German Catholic Palestine Society, and went to lunch in the hospice, a
neat and cool building with a pleasant garden. After we had finished
our meal we had the pleasure of being introduced to the reverend
father in charge, who I think lives here alone. His name is Zephyrin
Biever, a fine-looking man advanced in life, of courteous manners and
high intelligence. He complained bitterly of the treatment which he
had suffered at the hands of those tourists whom we met riding from
Tiberias to Nazareth, saying that they came in scores, took possession
of the hospice, and ate there without taking the trouble to call upon
him or return him thanks, direct or indirect. Further he declared that
they lay about on his furniture with their dirty boots, soiling it so
much that he had been obliged to send all the covers to be washed.
Indeed, the reverend gentleman was truly angered in the matter, and as
it seemed to me not without some reason. It is a pity that travellers
should show such a lack of consideration towards their hosts, as it
makes difficulties for those who follow them. Father Biever stated
that he would admit no more tourists of this stamp, but I hope that in
time his charity may overcome his wrath.

Our host most kindly took us to inspect some ground, which, after
great difficulty with the Turkish authorities, has been purchased by
his Society. Following the line of an old aqueduct, that in places is
cut through solid rock, we came to the remains of baths and to a plain
below upon the borders of the lake. This plain he believes to be the
true site of Capernaum, quoting in support of his theory the fact that
here met all the great caravan roads to Egypt, to Damascus, and to
Akka. Another point in his favour is that this wide expanse of level
land must have been a very suitable site for a city. Also here some
city stood, as the foundation walls and other ruins prove; one,
moreover, whereon has been fulfilled the prophecy of Jesus that it
should be "brought down to hell," or Hades, according to the Revised
Version, which may perhaps have been a figurative way of saying that
its remains should be buried beneath the earth. Certain it is that
neither here nor on the rival site do any of them remain above its
surface. Most experts, however, seem to think that Capernaum lay a
little to the eastward, nearer to the mouth of Jordan. The matter is
one of purely academic interest, though naturally our host would wish
to believe that the religious association to which he belongs
possesses to-day the veritable spot of ground where our Lord lived and
taught nineteen hundred years ago.

Father Biever showed us also what is said to be the site of Chorazin,
now marked by a single tree growing on a hill above, and the plain
where, according to the earliest traditions, after His resurrection
the Saviour bade His disciples "to come and dine."

Here on this waterlogged swamp I found a tortoise basking in the sun
after its winter sleep, and secured it, desiring to attempt the
difficult experiment of bringing it home to England, a task which I
achieved with many adventures. Indeed, not five minutes from this
moment of writing, I saw that tortoise, which has now become quite
tame, buried under the shelter of a carnation in my garden here in
Norfolk. Poor Capernaum, for so is he named, does not entirely approve
of our English climate, and at the first touch of cold or rain goes to
ground in protest, until the air is dry and the sun shines once more.
Then he comes up, devours the young lettuces, and makes wild
endeavours to start in a bee-line back to the Sea of Galilee. Although
active under suitable climatic conditions, in appearance he is
distinctly antique. I wonder how many generations have gone by since
he began to crawl about the edge of the Sea of Tiberias. Even in this
country individuals of the species have been known to live for several
centuries, but no one has yet discovered what is the life period of a
healthy tortoise in its native clime. Perhaps this one basked in the
sun and slept in the shade when Herod the Fox built Tiberias in honour
of his master, the Roman Emperor. It is at least conceivable.

Having bidden farewell to Father Biever and thanked him for his
kindness, we reached our boat on the backs of Arabs, and went
a-fishing by the bank where once the Apostles shot their nets.
Stripping himself almost naked, the fisherman waded into the sea, and
cleverly cast his net towards the boat. Then, following its line, he
advanced till the water was up to his armpits, drawing in the net as
he came. Presently in its meshes appeared a great fish, which he
extracted and threw into the boat. Next he went back to the bank,
walked along it a few paces, and repeated the performance. This time
there were two fish, of a different species. To me the scene was
intensely interesting since, I suppose that in much the same fashion,
and near this very place, Simon Peter and Andrew, his brother, were
"casting a net into the sea" when their Master, who was walking upon
the shore, saw them, and called them to be "fishers of men."

After we had made an end of fishing we rowed towards Tiberias, past
the coasts of Magdala, where Mary Magdalene was born. The evening was
now lovely, and the sea calm as glass. Beautiful, also, were the
reed-fringed banks among which hid water-fowl, and, still more
beautiful, a great green and gold halcyon that sat on the bending
bough of an oleander, and at our approach fled away like a flash of
coloured light. So by degrees we made our homeward course, the boatmen
as they rowed singing a quaint and melodious love-chant, upon the old
theme of an aged suitor who by successive gifts of ever-advancing
value tries to persuade a young beauty to be his. From time to time,
for the sun was still hot, they paused to refresh themselves with
copious draughts of the lake water, drunk from out of an old meat-tin.
This water the inhabitants of the district find healthy, but in
strangers it induces dysentery.

On our way to the hotel after landing from this interesting
expedition, one of the most interesting, indeed, that I ever made, we
saw a curious sight. In front of the fort not far from the inn a mob
of hideous Bedouin women with their children, rough camels that
grumbled savagely, sheep, goats, and kids, one of which was being
carried, advanced with a sullen air from the gates of the Turkish
gaol. It appeared that a traveller--what traveller we never
ascertained--had been robbed by Bedouins somewhere in the
neighbourhood of Mount Tabor. Thereupon a party of soldiers surrounded
the whole tribe concerned, and marched them into Tiberias. The men
having been lodged in gaol--I wonder when they will get out again--the
women and their belongings were being driven off into the wilderness
to await the reappearance of their lords and masters. Justice as it is
administered in Syria seems somewhat wholesale and indiscriminate, but
of this particular example the European pilgrim is not likely to
complain.

That evening we dined with Mr. Soutar, an able and experienced
missionary of the Free Church of Scotland, which supports a hospital
and mission station in Tiberias. The matron of this hospital was our
fellow-guest, a refined and, if she will pardon its proclamation, a
very beautiful Scottish lady. The destiny that appointed such a person
to tend and care for savage Bedouins and Tiberias Jews seems strange
indeed.

Mr. Soutar, whose energy and good works are known throughout these
coasts, told me many amusing stories of the difficulties which
confront a missionary in Ottoman dominions. Thus: he is a great reader
and has a good library, but the customs authorities of Palestine are
prejudiced on the subject of books. They even seize "Baedeker's Guide"
when they see it, and may perhaps treat the present work in the same
fashion. Indeed Mr. Soutar finds it almost impossible to import the
most inoffensive volume except by the expensive method of registered
parcel post, when they are sometimes delivered. On his arrival in
Syria his library only escaped seizure because the officials, weary of
examining luggage, passed the remainder, including his cases of books,
on payment of a duty charge, which was assessed by weight. A brother
missionary at Jerusalem, for whom he imported the "Encyclopaedia
Brittanica," was not so fortunate, as that work was held to be
revolutionary in tone and confiscated. Ultimately it was rescued by a
third missionary, a man of business capacities, who paid /baksheesh/
in the form of a fixed salary to a certain high officer. When next an
instalment became due he intimated that before it could be touched the
"Encyclopaedia" must be handed over to his friend. It arrived that
very night.

The Turkish custom-house has a particular aversion to maps,
considering them doubtful and dangerous inventions of the Frank. One
of the mission societies, not long ago, tried to import some charts of
Judaea, as it was in the time of Solomon. They were impounded.
Thereupon a missionary attended and explained that this map showed the
country as it had been when the kings of Israel ruled. The Turk
listened and answered impassively--

"Your words cannot be true, for in those days they drew no maps, and
therefore cannot have made these. For the rest, this land is ruled by
the Sultan, and to speak of any other king who had dominion over it is
treason. Let the picture writings be destroyed."

It seems to be the same with everything. Before any good work is
carried out, a colossal ignorance and prejudice must be conquered.
This can only be done in one way, by the scientific distribution of
/baksheesh/. Thus, even to build a hospital necessitates a firman from
the Sultan, and all dwellers in the East know the cost and infinite
labour involved in procuring such a document. Nor must the officials,
being what they are by blood, tradition, and upbringing, be too
severely blamed, since, according to Mr. Soutar, they are all
regularly discharged every two years, and by this simple method forced
to repurchase their places at a great price. Sometimes, also, a decree
is issued that they shall receive no pay for four months, and
sometimes the post must support itself out of incidental and irregular
profits; that is, by bribery and blackmail. With a family to feed,
under such circumstances, most of us would become corrupt.

Turning to another subject, Mr. Soutar informed me that the Jews of
Tiberias expect that their Messiah, a great and powerful king, will
rise bodily out of the Sea of Galilee. I asked him also of his work,
and he informed me that Jewish converts are very rare and much
oppressed; indeed, their existence is made almost unbearable. He
quoted a case in which his own father and relatives had utterly
disowned a man who became a Christian, refusing to know him when they
met. Happily, however, after some incident which I forget, in this
instance, a reconciliation was effected.

The matron also told me of her hospital, which, unfortunately, I was
unable to visit, as we were leaving Tiberias so early on the next
morning. One of her chief difficulties lay in dealing with the
Bedouins, a tribe which furnishes many patients. These people, until
some desperate sickness brings them to the charitable Christian doors,
have very frequently never slept under a roof. From year to year they
wander according to the immemorial custom of their people, resting
beneath the stars in summer and crowding into the black camel-hair
tents in winter. The result is that any building stifles them,
especially at night. This I can quite understand, for as a young man I
remember similar experiences when, after camping on the African veld
for weeks, I first returned to civilised abodes. One of their
patients, the matron said, absolutely refused to climb the stairs.
When at length he was persuaded to the attempt he ascended them upon
his hands and knees, scrambling along as we might do in crossing some
terrible and precipitous place. These Arabs, however, are very
thankful for the skill and kindness that is lavished on them; indeed
those who are cured show their gratitude in many touching and simple
ways. Nor is this sentiment lacking in the relatives to whom they tell
their wondrous tale of the compassion of the Frank.

At length, much edified and instructed, we bade farewell to our kind
hosts, with whom in their merciful work be all good fortune, and
returned to the inn. Here we found the tortoise, as uncomfortable as
any wild Bedouin in a hospital ward, engaged in waddling round and
round the room with an activity surprising in a creature so ungainly.
My subsequent mosquito-haunted dreams of him and of his far-reaching
past are, I regret to say, too fantastic to be set down in a sober
chronicle of facts.

On the following morning we departed from Tiberias for Tabor. The day
was dull, and a coverlet of mist hid the broad surface of the lake,
while above, patches of cloud hung upon the mountain foreboding wet.
Reaching the higher level we rode over a plain, where in places the
road, that, like everything else, had been prepared for the
disappointing German Emperor, was actually ploughed up by industrious
husbandmen, who grudged the few feet of ground it covered. Further on,
however, the turf became so sound and good that we could actually
canter over it without fear of falling, a rare circumstance in
Palestine.

On our way we met a procession of a hundred or more Russian Christians
making a pilgrimage round the Holy Land. These people, collected from
the vast interior of the Russian Empire, land at Jaffa, and for the
rest of that long journey trust to their legs. They walked with tall
staves mounted in real or imitation silver, were clad in rough frieze,
and carried kettles and packs, their only baggage, strung about their
bodies. Nearly all of them seemed elderly, grey-bearded men, and women
who were past the age of child-bearing, although here and there I
noticed a young woman, perhaps unmarried or a widow. I believe that
these persons, who if they be fanatical certainly deserve the respect
of all right-thinking people, belong for the most part to the peasant
class, and by many years of self-denial save up enough money, some £10
or £15 a head, to enable them to make the desired pilgrimage. The
women are very plain and short in stature, but somehow their lack of
favour is redeemed by the kindliness of their faces. Their husbands
and brothers also are homely in appearance, but in this respect seem
to improve with age, for both here and in other places I saw old men
among them who might be called handsome. At least their white hair and
earnest eyes gave them dignity. They appeared to be fond of flowers;
at any rate we noticed that, notwithstanding their oppressive burdens,
many of them carried bunches of anemones in their hands. Moreover,
they had decorated the horses of their mounted guides with wreaths and
coronals. As we went by they greeted us with courteous gestures, and
in words which we could not understand. I could not help contrasting
the conduct of these simple, pious folk with that of the troop of
tourists whom we had met a few days before, and comparing their bows
and gentle salutations with the hands outstretched in imitation of
Arab beggars and the jocose cries for /baksheesh/, which to my fancy,
perhaps over-nice, amidst these hallowed scenes, seemed to strangely
out of place.

I have spoken before of the flowers of Palestine, but never in any
other spot did I see their equal for loveliness and frequency. It is
scarcely too much to say that here for whole miles it would have been
difficult to throw a shilling at hazard without its falling on some
beauteous bloom. Everywhere the turf was carpeted with them, in a
pattern of glorious colours such as no man could design or execute.
Over this starry plain wandered flocks of hundreds of storks. David
drew his revolver and fired a shot, whereupon they rose like thunder,
making the air white with their wings, to wheel round and round in
circles and settle again far away. Where they nest I know not, if they
do nest here. Perhaps they pass northward for this purpose. Perhaps
even they are the fowls that I have seen building upon the roof-tops
in Holland. Who can tell? I wonder, by the way, why these birds
confine themselves to the other side of the Channel. There is little
difference in climate between the Netherlands and the flats of eastern
England, and to them a few more miles of sea would be no matter. Yet
Nature says to them--Thus far shalt thou go and no further.

We halted to lunch in a most imposing ruin of vast extent, called
Kahn-el-Tujar. This building is said to have been constructed in 1487,
and was a caravanserai for the accommodation of merchants journeying
to Damascus and elsewhere. All about are the remains of the chambers
where they slept, with eating-halls and open courts, perhaps for the
picketing of their camels and other beasts of burden. A quarter of a
mile away on an opposing hill is another ruin, that of a Saracen
castle, whose garrison, I suppose, protected--or plundered--the
caravanserai. I do not know when these places were deserted or
destroyed, but until recently a fair was held here. Indeed it was the
site of a cattle sale only two years ago.

Our meal finished we saddled up, and started somewhat hurriedly,
hoping to reach the top of Tabor before the threatening rain came down
in earnest. The mountain rose immediately above us, a round majestic
mass, of old the landmark on the frontiers of Issachar and Zebulun.
Here it was, too, that Deborah the prophetess commanded Barak to
gather his host for the smiting of Sisera, saying, "Hath not the Lord
God of Israel commanded, saying, Go and draw toward Mount Tabor, and
take with thee ten thousand men of the children of Naphtali, and of
the children of Zebulun." Here also, according to the earliest and
best Christian tradition, confirmed by Origen little more than two
centuries after the birth of Christ, and St. Jerome, who wrote in the
fourth century, but questioned by Baedeker and by the Rev. John
Lightfoot, the Hebrew scholar, who died in 1675, took place the
Transfiguration of the Saviour in the presence of St. Peter, St.
James, and St. John. On this point, however, I shall have more to say.

The slopes of the holy mountain are thickly clothed with oaks, other
trees, and various kinds of scrub. Strangely enough, Tabor has always
been considered holy; by the early Jews, the Christians of all ages,
the Saracens, and the people of Palestine of to-day. This reputation,
moreover, is quite independent of the circumstance of the
Transfiguration, except of course in the case of Christians. As we
rode upwards we passed the tents of an encampment of Bedouins, who
have the reputation of being the most lawless of their turbulent race,
but they did nothing more than stare at us. Scrambling along the steep
zig-zag path, a ride of about an hour brought us to the summit of the
mountain, which is said to be three kilometres in circumference.
Passing beneath the ancient gateway we rode to the Latin monastery,
known as Residence de la Transfiguration, now in charge of the learned
Père Barnabé, O.F.M., Missionaire Apostolique, and an assistant
brother. The Father had not returned from some expedition when we
arrived, but, upon presenting our introduction, his subordinate
entertained us kindly.

We inquired at once for the fresh horses that our American friend had
so generally promised to send to meet us here. Our chagrin may be
imagined when we learned that these horses arrived on the previous
day, but, as we were not there, had returned to Nazareth, or, for
aught we knew, to Jerusalem. Indeed this was nothing short of a blow
to us, since to attempt the journey across the plain of Esdraelon and
the mountains beyond upon our weary crocks would be a bold
undertaking. What made the disappointment more tiresome also, was the
certainty that it had not been brought about by chance since, to our
knowledge, the dragoman in charge of the horses had received strict
and full orders from his employer as to when and where he was to meet
us. Unfortunately, however, the American gentleman, in his forethought
and generosity, had impressed upon us that we were to pay nothing for
these horses, an injunction which, of course, we intended to
disregard. Without doubt he had told the dragoman, or owner, the same
thing, whereon that astute Eastern, not knowing our intentions,
fulfilled the letter of the law, but broke its spirit. That is to say,
he came to meet us, but on the wrong day, and forthwith vanished, so
far as we are concerned, for ever.



                             CHAPTER XVII

                       TABOR, CARMEL, AND ACRE

Lacking other consolations in our sad circumstances, we took such
comfort as we could from tea and the old saying about tears and spilt
milk, after which we set out to see the ruins. Both that afternoon and
for three hours on the following morning in the company of Father
Barnabé, I examined these various and fascinating relics very closely.
I do not, however, propose to attempt any detailed description of
them; first because it would occupy too much space, and secondly, for
the reason that this has already been done in a fashion which I could
not hope to rival, by Father Barnabé himself, in his work /Le Mont
Thabor/ (J. Mersch, Paris).

These ruins, that are surrounded first by the remains of the
encircling and ancient wall built by Flavius Josephus, the Jewish
historian of the Roman wars, which protected the whole top of the
mountain, and, secondly, with the broken fortifications reared by the
Saracens and destroyed by them also between 1211 and 1217, may for the
present purpose be roughly divided into two parts, that lying to the
west of the modern Latin monastery, and that which extends to the
east. To the west, at the foot of the garden and beyond it, are caves
which at some period probably served as tombs, but were afterwards,
doubtless during the first few centuries of the Christian era, used as
the habitations of hermits. In certain of these can still be seen
benches hollowed in the rock, where year by year some long departed
saint rested his weary bones, and other little hollows outside, which
the rain filled to serve him with drinking water.

It is strange to look at these wretched places and reflect upon the
passionate prayers, the nightly vigils, the pious but in my view
mistaken purposes that hallow them. What a life it must have been
which the old devotees endured for decades in those damp holes. There
is something pitiable in that tale of useless sacrifice. Yet in their
way, how good they were, these men who deserted the real, if fleeting
and uncertain, pleasures that the world has to offer to its sons, in
order to wear out their lives thus, like lichens withering upon an
inhospitable wall, till at length some brother anchorite found them
stiff in their self-appointed tombs. When they were dead others took
their places, and so at intervals of ten, or twenty, or fifty years,
others and yet others till the custom perished, and its scant
memorials writ in stone were covered with the dust of generations, in
due season to be reopened and read by us to-day. God rest them all,
poor men, whom the bitterness of life, the fear of death, and a hope
of some ultimate transcendent remedy drove to such spiritual, and
physical, expedients.

Beyond, or rather between, these hermit cells lies an ancient cemetery
whereof Father Barnabé has excavated many of the graves. These are
very curious, and, as he believes, contain the remains of some of the
50,000 people who took refuge here from the Romans in the time of
Josephus. They are dug out to about the depth of six feet, and lined
with rough stones, among which have been found a few fragments of
skeletons and some coins of the Roman period. Another very curious
relic is a sloping cement slab in what evidently has been a chamber
with conveniences for the heating of water, which the Père Barnabé
surmises--and after examination I agree with him--was used for the
ceremonial washing of corpses before they were consigned to earth.
What sights and sorrows must this place have seen.

Then there are what appear to have been wine-presses, with hollows at
a lower level for the collection of the must, and great cemented
cisterns where rainwater was, and is still, gathered, dating, it is
thought, from the time of the Saracens. Beyond all these lie the
wrecks of a Levitical settlement.

So much for the western side.

Passing through a kind of gateway to the east the visitor finds
himself among whole acres of tumbled ruins. Here was the fortress
built by the Benedictines during the twelfth century--I think that
Saladin massacred them all. Here, too, were the monasteries of various
orders, with their refectories, kitchens, sleeping-rooms, and baths
built on the Turkish plan. One can even see where they warmed the
water; indeed it is on record that the frequent use of this luxurious
form of bath by these monks caused something of a scandal. Especially
noticeable are the remains of a great and lofty hall, believed to have
been the chapter-room of the Benedictines, and a chapel which I
suppose belonged to this order, found to be floored with beautiful
mosaic. This, however, has been covered up again to prevent the
Russian pilgrims, who are very troublesome in such respects, from
carrying it away piecemeal.

Many are the far mementoes of the past which I omit, as I despair of
describing them in a clear and satisfactory fashion. Let us go on to
the great basilica, first built by order of the Empress Helena, with
its sister but inferior chapels on either side, supposed to have been
dedicated to Moses and Elias. It is a long building with a round apse,
which has been disinterred in recent years. At the eastern extremity
of this apse stands an altar built up again of the rough original
stones and surmounted by a plain, iron cross. This altar, placed upon
the extreme verge of the mountain, is by immemorial report believed to
mark the spot where our Saviour stood during the occurrence of the
ineffable event of the Transfiguration. Who can look at it unmoved?
Anciently it was roofed in, now in its simple loneliness it stands
open to the heavens, and thus, to my mind, gains in dignity and
suggestiveness. The tendency in the Holy Land is to cover every sacred
shrine with some tawdry dome. I prefer the infinite arc of the skies,
and for decoration the wild flowers and creeping ferns and grasses
which grow amid the mouldering stones. Once the southern walls of this
basilica were heaped with Saracenic towers and fortifications. Now it
and these have come to an equal ruin.

At the fall of night, through the midst of torrential rain driven in
sheets by a violent gale of wind, I went out and stood alone upon the
broken wall of one of these ancient towers, till darkness overtook me,
and the gusts became so fierce that on that narrow, perilous place, I
grew afraid to match my strength against their fury. Beneath me
stretched the vast plain of Esdraelon looking extraordinarily grand
and gloomy in the dull lights of that rushing storm. There to the
right was the territory of Zebulun; to the left the land of Issachar;
behind the country of Naphtali; yonder soared the point of little
Hermon, and beyond all rose the crest of Mount Gilboa. Suddenly
revealed in swift glimpses to be as suddenly lost to sight, it was
indeed a majestic prospect, but nothing there moved me so much as that
desolate altar and the iron cross which stood in the dim apse beneath.
It would be hard for any man to set down the thoughts that strike him
in such a scene and hour. I will not attempt the task further than to
say that this one lonely experience repaid me for all the toil and
difficulties of my visit to Syria.

Two falcons were nesting, or preparing to nest, among the stones of
the tower. My advent disturbed them. With wild screams they swept
around me, and the presence of these creatures seemed as it were to
complete, even to accentuate, the solemn conditions of the place, as
the great eagles that always hover about the crest of Tabor complete
and accentuate its storied and eternal solitude. If ever there was a
spot where God in His power might manifest Himself upon an earth He
loved, and was pleased to redeem, surely this one is fitting. So at
least I thought, who was happy in the occasion and circumstances of my
visit. Seen in the glare of day, and crowded with hundreds of Russian
pilgrims, perhaps it would have impressed me differently.

That evening also we went to the Greek church and monastery, lying on
the north of the plateau. Some of the buildings here are very ancient,
and include gigantic mediaeval cisterns. Baedeker states that the
Greeks claim to possess the actual spot of the Transfiguration, but in
this I think he must be mistaken. At any rate, when I questioned the
monks, they denied any such pretensions. The spot of the
Transfiguration, they told me, was where it is shown in the ground of
the Latins; they only own the ancient churches built, as they said, in
honour of Moses and Elias.

On returning to the hospice we found that the Père Barnabé had arrived
and were introduced to him. He is a missionary priest of the best and
most elevated stamp, one of those men, to be found among the votaries
of every creed, from whom goodness and charity seem to flow. Before he
was sent to Tabor he followed his sacred profession for many years in
China and elsewhere, and being gifted with an intellect capable of
drawing profit from the many experiences of a varied life, as I soon
discovered, he has made the most of his opportunities for observation.

We came to Mount Tabor prepared to rough it, whereas the dinner served
to us in the hospice was, I think, about the best we ate in Palestine.
It only lacked one thing, the society of our host, but I imagine it to
be against the rules of the order that he should eat with his guests,
especially in Lent. After our meal the Père Barnabé joined us,
however, and we spent the next three hours discussing in French and
English Tabor and all that has to do therewith. The mountain, by the
way, is still ravaged by hyenas, of which an enormous stuffed specimen
is set upon the walls of the refectory. Indeed one of the fierce
watch-dogs that are kept in the yard is partly paralysed by a bite in
the back from the iron jaws of this ravening beast.

Most of our conversation, however, turned upon the identity of the
mountain with the place of the Transfiguration of our Lord, to prove
which the Père Barnabé has written his book, /Le Mont Thabor/. Against
this identity various arguments have been urged, but the principal of
them all--indeed, to my mind, the only one which seems to have much
weight--is that advanced by Baedeker, that the Transfiguration could
scarcely have taken place on Tabor, "as the top was covered with
houses in the time of Christ." To this Father Barnabé answers, and
proves what he says, that at the epoch of our Lord there was no town
on the crest of Tabor. This, indeed, seems to be self-evident, seeing
that to the present day the only water-supply is obtained from
cisterns, which do not appear to be of very ancient construction.

Moreover, there is evidence on the point, that of Josephus (/Wars of
the Jews/, Book IV. chap. i.). Speaking of Mount Tabor he says: "Now,
Josephus erected this so long a wall in forty days' time, and
furnished it with other materials and with water from below for the
inhabitants only used rain water; as, therefore, there was a great
number of people gotten together on this mountain, Vespasian sent
Placidus with 600 horsemen thither." Afterwards he tells how "their
water failed them, and so they delivered up the mountain and
themselves to Placidus." Note, "the mountain," not the city.

Here is what Father Barnabé says upon the point of Baedeker's
remarks:--


 "L'auteur de cet artile n'indique pas la source où il a puisé ce
  detail /et nouse le défions de la faire/.

 "En temps de guerre, le Thabor était souvent un lieu de refuge pour
  les habitants de la plaine et un camp naturel pour les gens armés.
  Mais, comme nous l'avons vu dans les premiers chapitres de cet
  ouvrage, il n'y eut jamais de ville sur le sommet du Thabor et
  personne ne pourra prouver qu'il y ait eu des habitants au temps
  de Notre Seigneur. Olympiodore dit expressément que 'le Thabor
  était désert avant le venue du Christ.'

 "Mais admettons pour un instant qu'il y eut des maisons sur le
  Thabor au temps du Christ. Comment prouverait-on que sur cet
  immense dôme couvert d'arbres, Jésus n'aurait pas pu trouver un
  endroit pour prier et se transfigurer devant trois de ses
  disciples sans être vu? Nous ajoutons que, même dans cette
  hypothèse, la Transfiguration pouvait avoir lieu à l'extremité
  orientale du plateau, où fut élevé la première église et où une
  tradition secondaire localise la scène de ce glroieux événement.
  Du centre du plateau au mur d'enciente de Flavius Joséphe, vers
  l'occident, on voit beaucoup de ruines d'anciennes maisons, de
  construction assez miserable.

 "Au centre du plateau on a découvert, il y a deux ans, un antique
  petit cimetière dont les tombes ont été voilées au temps des
  croisades. A l'orient de ce cimetière on a trouvé plusiers grottes
  sépulcrales. Dans Phypothèse que ce cimetière et ces maisons aient
  été antérieurs à Flavius Josephus, il est certain que les
  habitations ne dépassaient pas le cimetière du côté de l'orient,
  parce-qu'il était absolument défendu aux Juifs d'avoir des tombes
  au milieu de leurs habitations.

 "La partie orientale du plateau ne pouvait pas être couverte de
  maisons, si maisons il y avait au temps de Notre Seigneur. Or,
  depuis le cimetière jusqu'à l'église construite anciennement sur
  l'endroit traditionnel de la Transfiguration, la distance est
  beaucoup plus grande que celle de Gethsémani à la ville de
  Jérusalem. Personne n'ignore que Jésus s'est réfugié dans ce
  jardin pour prier, pendant qu'on le cherchait pour le crucifier.

 "Quelque hypothèse qu'on imagine, on ne prouvera jamais que le
  Sauveur n'ait pas pu se transfigurer sur le Thabor."


Let us turn for a moment to the evidence in favour of Tabor. First,
there is the apocryphal gospel of the twelve apostles, which is also
known as "The Gospel according to the Hebrews." Into the merits or
demerits of that strange work, which seems to have been written
towards the end of the first century of our era, this is not the place
to enter. The only point with which we need concern ourselves is that
the writer, or writers, who probably began to live within fifty years
of the date of the Crucifixion, connected Tabor with the Saviour. In
chapter xvii. v. 1, Jesus is made to say, "Now, my mother, the Holy
Spirit, seized me by a lock of my hair, and carried me on to the
mountain of Great Tabor."

Origen states positively that "Tabor is the mountain in Galilee on
which Christ was transfigured." St. Cyril of Jerusalem, who lived in
the fourth century, says, "They were witnesses of the transfiguration
of Jesus on the Mount Tabor." St. Jerome says of St. Paula, "She
scaled the Mount Tabor whereon the Lord was transfigured."

I might quote other authorities, but perhaps I have said enough on the
matter. I will only add, therefore, that after visiting the place,
hearing Father Barnabé's learned discourses, and reading his able and
excellent book, for my part I am convinced that he is right, and not
Baedeker; that here and nowhere else happened the divine occurrence
which is recorded in the Gospels.

When we rose the next morning it was to find to our dismay that it had
been pouring with rain all night, and that more wet threatened. Under
ordinary circumstances this would have mattered little, but with the
plain of Esdraelon to cross the affair was different. On these flats
in dry weather riding is easy enough, but after prolonged rain, whole
stretches of them are turned into sloughs of despond, through the
worst of which a horse can scarcely pass. The lot of the traveller who
finds himself foundered in these mud-holes and benighted on that
inhospitable plain, or forced to take refuge in some filthy,
vermin-haunted native habitation, is not by any means agreeable. With
fresh, strong horses much may be ventured, but the condition of our
poor animals has already been described, and we had been disappointed
of our remounts. The question was--dared we attempt to force them
through several days' journey over swamps and mountains? When asked
Father Barnabé shook his head, while David was downright despondent.

"Of course," he said sadly, "for me it does not matter; I can take off
my clothes and wade in the mud, but what I am wondering is how you
gentlemen will like that?"

As his opinion was evidently very strong against our making the
attempt upon such wretched horses, in the end, to our great
disappointment, we were obliged to abandon the idea of attempting to
reach Jerusalem by Nablus. This decision involved returning to Haifa
and journeying thence to Jaffa by sea, and so on to Jerusalem. Such
are the vexing accidents of Eastern travel, but as our plans would not
allow of our waiting several days upon the chance of the weather
clearing, and as, if we did, it seemed more than doubtful whether we
could obtain fresh horses, there was no choice but to bow the head to
fate. Also, there were compensations. Thus, the ruins of Samaria,
Jacob's Well, and the old roll of the Samaritan law excepted, there is
not very much to be seen upon this Nablus route, whereas, by returning
we should have the opportunity of visiting Acre and Mount Carmel and
making a second halt at Nazareth. Incidentally also, as it was now no
longer necessary that we should leave the Mount that morning, we had
the advantage of a more prolonged exploration of Tabor with Father
Barnabé as /cicerone/.

By the way, to be the priest in charge of one of these hospices during
the spring, when visitors arrive, must be a somewhat arduous task. The
escorting of troops of Russian pilgrims--watching the while that they
do not carry the place off stone by stone as relics--is in itself a
labour for which, after a time, the contemplation of their piety can
scarcely compensate. Worse still, to my mind, must be the daily round
of conducting a certain class of tourists, many of them careless,
indifferent, or ignorant, and some not even careful to avoid paining
their guide by scoffing audibly at events, scenes, and traditions,
which to him are of the holiest.

Just as we returned to the monastery, after three hours of industrious
examination, Mr. Brocklebank, an English clergyman, arrived. Seeing
that the Father was thoroughly tired, and that he had other things in
hand, I ventured to offer to take his place and escort the new-comer
to the best of my ability. For this I feel that I owe my apologies to
Mr. Brocklebank, since I must have been but a poor substitute for
Father Barnabé. However, I did my best, though I fear that I led my
victim a desperate dance whilst searching in a chaos of walls, caves,
and graves for the place where the ancient Jews washed the bodies of
the dead, which I was determined that he should see. At last, I am
proud to say, I found it.

After lunch our wretched steeds were brought round, and, having
collected the tortoise, Capernaum, and restored him to his basket, I
bade farewell to Father Barnabé with very real regret and started down
the mountain, though not by the road we had wished to travel.
Capernaum, by the way, had, I fear, passed an unhappy night. He is a
creature which dislikes cold, and, so soon as I let him loose to take
the air, he made furious attempts to bury himself in the rocky soil of
Tabor. When he paused exhausted from these ineffective labours one of
the monastery dogs seems to have discovered him. The interview that
followed must have been of a nature very similar to that which, as
history relates, occurred beneath the sofa between the monkey and the
parrot. It was a dishevelled and dilapidated Capernaum that went into
the basket among the baggage. Thanks, however, to his thick shell, his
health did not suffer materially.

On our ride over swelling hills to Nazareth we found yet other
flowers, gorgeous red tulips and a most splendid variety of iris,
though of this, either here or elsewhere, I saw no further specimen.
In the evening we went for a long walk about the Nazareth mountains,
digging up cyclamen roots, studying the character of the agriculture,
and trying to identify sites. That walk in the pleasant rain-washed
air, and amongst those surroundings, is one of my most agreeable
recollections of our journey. Finally we revisited "Mary's Spring,"
and so back down the steep streets of the town. On our way a little
incident occurred which revealed the difference between the manners of
East and West. One of the pretty Nazareth children, a girl of about
thirteen, followed me for a long way with her persistent and worrying
cry of "/Baksheesh!/ Hadji," that is, Pilgrim. At length I turned and
put into her outstretched hand a particularly beautiful anemone which
I was carrying. How the joke would have been received by an English
beggar may be imagined, but this girl took the flower, curtseyed, and
went away smiling.

Next morning early we started back to Haifa. On our way we met a
shepherd clothed in a robe of many colours, doubtless such as Jacob
gave to Joseph, and bearing upon his shoulders a lost sheep. This
illustration of the saying of St. Luke was really remarkable. "What
man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not
leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which
is lost until he find it? And when he hath found it, he layeth it on
his shoulders rejoicing."

It shows once more how closely the Saviour clung to the use of natural
examples around Him as a groundwork of His parables, and how little
those examples have changed in the course of nineteen centuries.

On reaching the outskirts of Haifa we struck to the left, passing some
of the neat houses of the German settlement. In a field attached to
one of these I saw, to my delight, a colonist using a good European
plough, and congratulated him upon his enterprise. Thence we rode to
the flank of Carmel, which we began to climb. About half-an-hour's
ride brought us to the monastery at the top. Here monks have lived
since the twelfth century, when the hermits became the Carmelites, but
twice they have been burnt out and massacred, and once their church
was made a mosque. Once also it was a hospital when, in 1799, the
great Napoleon laid siege to Acre. Ultimately he retreated, whereupon
the Turks came and butchered his wounded men in this monastery on
Mount Carmel. They are buried outside its gate.

The view of sea and land from this place is very fine. Within the
church we were shown the cave where Elijah hid himself. It may be so,
but there are many like it all about the mountain. Leaving the
monastery we began to descend the further side of Carmel by a trail so
steep that we were obliged to scramble along it, driving our horses
before us. Indeed the way in which these active creatures managed to
keep their footing upon slanting and slippery slabs of rock, was
nothing short of marvellous. However, they came down without accident.
All the slopes of Carmel are covered with the most beautiful flowers
and sweet herbs nurtured by the dew for which it is famous. Here,
amongst other plants and shrubs, the odorous thyme grows in masses,
also white wild roses and various ground orchids.

Not far from the bottom of the mountain and facing the sea we reached
the cave where, when "Jezebel cut off the prophets of the Lord,
Obadiah took a hundred of them and hid them by fifty." I confess that
what has always puzzled me about this passage, and not less now that I
have seen the place of his righteous act, is--what became of the other
fifty? I suppose, that as space was limited, they had to hide outside,
and take their chance of being cut off by Jezebel.

This cave, which is acknowledged by the native Jews who occasionally
hold some religious service here, has all the appearance of being
genuine. With packing it would accommodate fifty prophets, and there
is a supply of water in a cistern cut out of the solid rock.

The next day was Sunday, and we went to the English church, although,
I am sorry to say, I forget by what mission or society it is
maintained. It is an exceedingly neat building, and furnished in the
most excellent taste. The service was attended by a good number of
native Christians, some of whom wore the fez. This custom I cannot
quite understand. I noticed that our dragoman, David, who is a
Christian, frequently kept on his fez in places of worship, although
sometimes he took it off, for instance, in the church of the Holy
Sepulchre. I asked him to explain the matter, but could get no
satisfactory answer. He said it was a question of custom, and shrugged
his shoulders. Orientals, as we know, show respect by covering the
head and baring the feet, so, I presume, that even when they adopt
another faith they are still apt to obey an immemorial tradition. The
subject is one worthy of investigation by the learned. Why, for
instance, should the Apostle Paul speak so strongly on this point? In
the eleventh chapter of Corinthians he says, "Every man praying or
prophesying, having his head covered, dishonoureth his head. But every
woman who prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered dishonoureth
her head; for that is even all one as if she were shaven. . . . For a
man, indeed, ought not to cover his head, forasmuch as he is the image
and glory of God, but the woman is the glory of the man."

I admit that I do not understand these sayings, or what rooted
conviction caused the great Apostle to deliver himself with such force
upon the subject. It is difficult to comprehend why a woman dishonours
her head by appearing in a place of worship without a covering, which,
after all, is only designed as a protection against the weather. Or
was the true origin of the habit in the East, in the case of woman,
meant to be a protection against the unauthorised and inappropriate
admiration of men? In other words, was the headpiece alluded to a veil
or /yashmak/?

The whole matter is mysterious. For instance, why have Turks so deep a
veneration for the turban? The traveller will often have noticed at
the head of Ottoman graves a conical-shaped pillar, which, I am
informed, is intended to symbolise the turban. I do not know if this
is really the case, but I have seen in Cyprus tombs in ancient
buildings that must themselves be centuries old, covering the remains
of Moslem saints whose very names are forgotten, whereof the head
pillar is still adorned with the actual turban of the departed. What
seems the more curious is that as the cloth of this article of dress
rots, fresh wrappings are, from generation to generation, wound about
the decaying core by the hands of the faithful. Why is this done?

That Sunday afternoon, we made an expedition to Acre, to reach which
town we crossed the Kishon by a bridge not easy to negotiate, and
proceeded for about two hours on a sandy road that runs along the
sea-coast. Near Acre another river must be forded, the ancient Belus,
now called Nahr Namên. There is a bridge over this river also, but at
present, like most things in Palestine, it is broken down, and only a
few days before our visit some horses had been killed in attempting
its passage. The result was that in order to cross we were obliged to
wade out into the sea where the river joins it, through water which
reached to our horses' bellies. Marching along the sands we met a band
of Turkish conscripts, ragged and melancholy-looking peasants, who had
been pressed into military service. These poor men, who must serve for
five years, receive little or no pay; lucky are they if they get food
and clothing. Christians are not impressed, not from any consideration
of their faith or prejudices, but because the Turks, perhaps wisely,
do not trust them. As the price of exemption they pay an annual tax of
about 10s., which, looked at from their point of view, strikes me as
an excellent bargain. Among these conscripts I noted one or two men
who were quite old. David's explanation, I cannot say if it is
correct, was that they had escaped conscription in past years, but,
having at length fallen into the hands of the recruiting agents, were
marched off to do duty as cooks or camp servants.

Acre, that we entered through a great gate, beyond which stands a fine
but dilapidated house, now, we were told, occupied by soldiers, but
once, as I judge, a palace, is a mass of broken fortifications, many
of them dating from the crusading period. Everywhere in Acre are
enormous meaningless walls, passages, and bastions. In the sea itself
stands an old castle of the Crusaders; on the sea front a stretch of
wall battered to ruins by shot and never rebuilt. Where once was a
great Christian church now appears the yard of a caravanserai, filled,
on the day of our visit, with camels and groups of Persian merchants.
Round this court, formerly a place of worship, still run noble
cloisters, carried upon pillars of Egyptian granite, taken, doubtless,
by the Templars, or other knights, from the ruins of some pagan
building, for all the capitals are of the mediaeval period and
fashioned in a different stone. Above these cloisters, built over the
supporting arches, stand rooms occupied by the merchants and other
travellers.

Acre, which has a population of about 10,000 souls, is the most
entirely Turkish town that I have visited. The inhabitants are said to
be very fanatical, even more so than at Nablus. Indeed during Ramazan,
the annual Mahommedan feast, I was told that it is not safe for
Europeans to be seen walking about the streets, especially if they
offend the prejudices of the pious sons of the Prophet by smoking.
There seems to be a large garrison of Turkish soldiers in the place,
and wretched-looking enough they were in their ragged and patched
apology for uniform. Some of these mounted guard at the gaol. We
looked through the bars of the iron gates, and saw the prisoners
within, miserable wretches crowded together in a courtyard. I believe
that for food they are obliged in most cases to rely upon what is
given them by the charitable or their relations. If none is brought to
them they starve, while from every dish the gaoler takes his toll.
When they saw us they thrust skinny arms through the bars of the gate,
offering for sale whips which they manufactured, the same, indeed,
that are used on their own backs, only more ornamented. It would be
interesting to know what is the death rate per thousand in these dens,
and what happens when an epidemic strikes them. The same that befell
at Newgate a century ago, perhaps. I left this inferno with pleasure.

Acre, then called Accho, was originally a Phoenician city.
Subsequently one of the Ptolemies who captured it named the place
Ptolemais, by which title it was known to St. Paul. The Arabs when
they seized the town in 638 restored to it its name of Acre. In 1104
it fell into the hands of Baldwin, after which the various crusading
forces used it as their principal port, and at times as their capital.
Saladin took it after the battle of Hattin, of which I have written.

Guy de Lusignan besieged it in 1189, and in 1191 Coeur-de-Lion joined
him and stormed the city. Exactly a hundred years later it was
recaptured by the Sultan Melik-el-Ashraf. Such is the history of Acre,
or so much of it as need concern us, put in the fewest possible words.

What sights those ancient stones have seen! One may sympathise with
the objects of the Crusaders. I do myself, and even, I confess, should
suffer no sorrow if any of the Christian powers were moved to take the
Moslem by his turban and propel him out of the small district so
sacred to all that section of mankind who believe that here lived and
died the Saviour and the Hope of every individual among them. Only I
should prefer that it was a Protestant power, since otherwise the
quarrels would be many and the oppression great. If either the Latins
or the Greeks were in a position of complete authority, things would
go very hardly with other sections of the Christian family. Perhaps,
indeed, they would fare better at the hands of the Jews.

To return to the Crusader. His method was not equal to his motives, or
mayhap a disposition not originally strained of the quality of mercy
was soured by such scenes as occurred at the battle of Hattin. Long
before that event, however, at Jerusalem in July 1099, the first
Crusaders, under the leadership of Godfrey de Bouillon and Tancred,
celebrated the storming of the city by the slaughter of over 70,000
Moslems, regardless of sex or age. The Jews, by way of variation, they
burnt alive in their synagogue, and the children they threw over the
wall into the Valley of Jehoshaphat. After these merciless doings
Godfrey, "clad in a robe of pure white," knelt at the reputed grave of
Christ in the church of the Sepulchre, and on behalf of his victorious
host returned thanks to the Prince of Peace, who had vouchsafed that
Jerusalem should thus be cleansed of Infidel and Jew!

Richard of England, therefore, was but copying the most approved
models of knightly grace when, after the fall of Acre, he revenged
himself for some breach of faith, real or supposed, on the part of
Saladin, by executing 2500 Turkish captives outside the town, while
his royal brother of Burgundy put a period to the earthly troubles of
an equal number within the walls. Says Geoffrey de Vinsauf in his
"Itinerary of Richard I.":--


 "He (that is Richard) called together a council of the chiefs of
  the people, by whom it was resolved that the hostages should all
  be hanged--[This is a mistake; their heads were cut off]--except a
  few nobles of a higher class, who might ransom themselves or be
  exchanged for some Christian captives. King Richard, aspiring to
  destroy the Turks root and branch and to punish their wanton
  arrogance, as well as to abolish the law of Mahomet and to
  vindicate the Christian religion, on the Friday after the
  Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, ordered 2700 of the
  hostages to be led forth from the city and hanged. His soldiers
  marched forward with delight to fulfil his commands, and to
  retaliate, with the assent of the Divine Grace, by taking revenge
  upon those who had destroyed so many of the Christians with
  missiles from bows and arbalests."


James, in his "Life of Richard Coeur-de-Lion," adds that the horrid
scene closed with an extended search for valuables inside the bodies
of the murdered Saracens, and the careful preservation of parts of
them for "medicinal uses."

When, as a lad, I inspected the original Bayeux tapestry at Bayeux,
and came to understand the ideas of ornament and pictorial jest which
suggested themselves to the minds of the very noblest ladies of that
time, those for whose pure sakes knights endured so many discomforts
and broke so many heads, my conception of the chivalry of the period,
as portrayed in our popular romances, was rudely shaken. A careful
study of the inner history of the Crusades does not tend to build it
up again. Yet heroic things did happen in those days. Here is another
story of Acre.

Full a hundred years have gone by: Richard and his army are dust like
those poor captives whom he butchered, but perhaps some of their
grandsons, or great-grandsons, once more fight on the walls of Acre
for the last time, since the triumph of the Crescent is at hand.
Leaders were traitorous, the Moslems swarmed in thousands, and inch by
inch, through streets that were a shambles, the town was taken. There
was a nunnery in it, where dwelt the Virgins of St. Clare. St.
Antonine and the chronicler Wadin, in his /Annales Minorum/, tell the
story of their end. I am sorry that I cannot quote Wadin's account in
full, as some modern tastes might find it outspoken. Here, however, is
a summary.

When the Abbess, who must have been a brave woman, knew that the enemy
had entered the city, she caused the bell of the convent to be rung.
The sisters having assembled, she told them what they must expect in
very straightforward language.

"My dear daughters, my excellent sisters," said she, "we must, in this
certain danger of life and modesty, show ourselves above our
sex. . . . In this crisis we cannot hope to escape their fury by
flight, but we can by a resolution, painful it is true, but sure." She
then went on to point out that the sight of mutilated faces is
revolting to humanity and to suggest such mutilation. Probably it was
not fear but conscience which prevented her from advising a more
thorough though, under the circumstances, easier and perfectly
legitimate alternative--that of suicide. The Abbess ended, "I will set
you the example. Let those who desire to meet their heavenly Spouse
imitate their mistress." At these words she cut off her nose with a
razor. "The others did the same and boldly disfigured themselves to
present themselves the more beautiful before Jesus Christ."

The end of the story is simple: "For the Saracens on beholding their
bleeding faces. . . . killed them all without sparing one." Thus these
forgotten heroic women achieved their martyrdom. What a spectacle must
they have presented as thus disfigured, their white robes stained with
their own blood, they sat, each in her accustomed place within the
chapel, telling their beads and mumbling prayers with mutilated lips,
while the devilish Saracens burst in upon them.

And it happened. This is no fiction of the romancer. A few brief
generations since thus did those noble women suffer, die, and pass to
their own place.

The true blood and the false showed themselves on that day of fear.
Says the French historian, Michaud: "John de Gresly and Oste de
Granson . . . fled away at the very commencement of the battle. Many
others who had taken the oath to die, at the aspect of this general
destruction only thought of saving their lives, and threw away their
arms to facilitate their flight."

But there were some of a different stamp. Thus the old Patriarch of
Jerusalem was dragged to the Port by his friends, resisting separation
from his flock in their last agony. Nor, indeed, was he separated,
since he insisted upon receiving so many fugitives into his boat that
it sank and all were drowned. Then across the dark oblivious years the
face of William de Clement shines like a star. When the Templars had
abandoned the gate of St. Anthony he returned to it, and thrice
charged the Saracens alone. Alive he regained the centre of the city.
But let the old chronicler of the time tell the rest--


 "Quand il fut revenu au milieu de la cité, son dextrier fut molt
  las, et lui-même aussi; le dextrier resista en contre les
  esperons, et s'arresta dans la rue comme qui n'en peut plus. Les
  Sarrasins, à coups de flêches, ruerent à terre frère Guillaume;
  ainsi ce lyal champion de Jésus Christ rendit lâme a son
  Créateur."


The phrase in the mediaeval French, "Le dextrier resista en contre les
esperons," which I may render, "The war-horse grew callous to the
spurs," is very curious and expressive.

The end of the scene was terrible. I quote from Michaud. "The sea was
tempestuous, the vessels could not approach close to land; the shore
presented a heart-rending spectacle; here a mother called upon her
son, there a son called the assistance of his father, many
precipitated themselves into the waves in despair; the mass of the
people endeavoured to gain the vessels by swimming, some were drowned
in the attempt, others were beaten off with oars."

There is more and worse to follow, almost too dreadful for quotation,
so here let us stop. The tragedies of the Holy Land have no number,
and perhaps even now they are not done with. Perchance, too, it is the
same tale everywhere in the record of this cruel, bloodstained world.
Only here, in the Holy Land, as it happens, those among us--but few, I
suppose--who delve in the annals of the past, know their history
wherein, in this instance, the greatest interests of mankind chance to
be concerned. The sun of the Crusaders rose in blood, and in blood it
set. "I came to bring not peace but a sword." Truly in Palestine, the
very place of His coming, more even than elsewhere, that saying has
been fulfilled. Why, we ask, why? our hearts stirred with common human
pity for all those tormented dead. There is no answer, or none that we
can understand.

Also the subject is very painful, so we will leave it--and Acre.



                            CHAPTER XVIII

                                JAFFA

To leave Haifa is comparatively easy, since, owing to a certain amount
of shelter which the harbour enjoys, it is only in really bad storms
that the traveller cannot embark. Thus on the night of our departure
the sea was still high, but we managed, with some discomfort it is
true, to win on board the steamer. To disembark at Jaffa is quite
another thing.

Now there are two ways of proceeding from Haifa to Jaffa--by sea,
which, of course, is simple, in good weather; or to drive a matter of
sixty miles over a hideous apology for a road, which runs along the
sea-coast. This involves two full days' travelling, including a start
at three or four in the morning on the second day, and a considerable
expenditure, since such transport is not cheap. Long and anxiously did
I ponder over the alternative. Look you, my reader, if the sea is
rough at Jaffa, this happens. You go on to that singularly
uninteresting place, Port Said, whence, after several days in an hotel
at your own charges, you may, if lucky, take another boat back to
Jaffa. Then, if the sea is still rough, you proceed to Beyrout, thence
to return to Jaffa in a week or ten days' time. Then, if the sea is
still rough, once more you visit Port Said, and so on /ad nauseum/.

This is no fancy picture. We had fellow-travellers to whom these
things happened, as they happened to those bold voyagers who, in the
face of my experienced advise, determined to try to land at Paphos, in
Cyprus, an example that the reader may recall. Remembering past woes,
indeed, some who tarried at Haifa went the length of hiring a carriage
to tow them through the sands to Jaffa, but I reasoned with them.

"Luck," I said, "ought to change; it was cowardly to give in. The
courage of man and the perseverance of woman ought not to be overcome
by the billows that break on the rocks of Jaffa." They were stirred to
enthusiasm. Also they bethought them of that two days' expensive drive
through quick drifts and mud-holes, and the 3 A.M. awakening on the
second morning.

"Listen," said a lady solemnly, "if we get off safe at Jaffa I shall
bless you. If we don't, I never want to see or hear your name again."

I replied that in either event I feared she might come across it some
time, and we started.

I hope that in her transatlantic home for the rest of her life that
lady may remember me with regard, as I remember her. For as it chanced
on this occasion, we landed in a fashion so prosperous--the sea having
conveniently gone down during the night--that even then instinct told
me Jaffa had a card up its sleeve to be played some day for my
especial benefit.

This was the port most frequented by the old pilgrims, and concerning
it their tales of woe are many. A pilgrimage in the Middle Ages was a
very serious matter. No statistics are available, but a somewhat
extensive inquiry into the subject, and the reading of many books,
suggests to me that not more than about fifty per cent. of those
enterprising voyagers returned to their respective homes, while the
other half endured miseries that to-day we should consider
overwhelming. Says the old monk, Felix Fabri, writing in the fifteenth
century:--


 "O, my God! what a hard and tedious excursion; with how many
  sufferings was it spoiled. During this excursion I saw many
  vigorous young noblemen perish, who once had thought in their own
  conceit that they could rule the waves of the sea and weigh the
  lofty mountains in scales; but who at last died by the just
  judgment of God, broken down by hardships and lamentably humbled
  in spirit. May God give those who call this pilgrimage an easy
  excursion the power of feeling its sorrows, that they may learn to
  have compassion for the pilgrims to the Holy Land which they
  deserve. It requires courage and audacity to attempt this
  pilgrimage. That many are tempted by sinful rashness and idle
  curiosity cannot be doubted; but to reach the holy places and to
  return to one's home alive and well is the especial gift of God."


Johann van Kootwyck, who made the pilgrimage about a century later
than Felix Fabri, portions of whose work have been translated from the
Latin by Cobham, has left advice as to the outfit necessary in his day
to a trip through the Holy Land. It begins by recommending the pilgrim
to make a will and arrange all his earthly affairs, which shows what
was thought of the prospects of his return. Then it sets out the costs
of the passage and board upon a galley. That these were considerable
is proved by the fact that before the licence of the Papal legate
could be obtained the pilgrim must show "that he can afford to spend
at the very least one hundred gold pieces on the journey." Now in 1598
I suppose that one pound went as far as three to-day, if not a good
deal further. Therefore it would seem that the pilgrim must have
possessed at least £300 to spend upon this enterprise alone--that is,
supposing the gold piece referred to having been approximately of the
value of a sovereign. Also he must take with him a box containing a
mattress, a pillow, and a pair of sheets (these last seem an
unnecessary luxury), which box ought to measure six feet long by three
feet wide, so that it could serve as a bed. It must have looked
uncommonly like a coffin. Perhaps the pilgrim sometimes returned
inside it, and--good, thoughtful man--had this contingency in view.
Then he must be provided with half-a-dozen shirts, although collars
were not considered a necessity (this is specified), a sailor's cap,
towels, handkerchiefs, two pounds of soap (this, again, seems
luxurious for a pilgrim), "twenty pounds of the best biscuit, some
good wine, cinnamon, ginger, nutmegs and cloves, with pomegranates,
oranges, and lemons, also sugar and laxative medicine." However, he
was advised to carry no arms, to wear the roughest clothes only, so as
to avoid being robbed, and, above all, carefully to conceal his cash.
In many parts of Syria this counsel holds as good now as on the day
that it was given.

Even when the expensive fare had been paid on the galley, according to
friend Felix, the accommodation afforded would not now be considered
passable by a steerage passenger on a liner.


 "A pilgrim can hardly move about without touching his neighbour
  (that is, while sleeping); moreover, the place is enclosed, and
  exceeding hot and full of various foul vapours. Wherefore, one
  must needs sweat all night, which greatly mars one's rest. Fleas
  and lice swarm there at that time in countless numbers, also mice
  and rats. Oftentimes, I may say every night, I have risen silently
  and gone up into the open air, and felt as though I had been freed
  from some filthy prison."


Then he tells of the heat of the sun, of the darkness, foul air, and
overcrowding of cabins, adding "that although the blowing of the wind
is essential to those who sail in a ship, yet it is very unpleasant,"
after which follows a masterly picture of sea-sickness, clearly by one
who had experience. Next we have more about fleas, flies, gnats (query
mosquitoes), mice, and rats, which eat up "the private larders" and
spoil the shoes, and other mysterious creatures. "Moreover, the damp
on board ship breeds fat white worms, which crawl everywhere and come
by stealth upon men's legs and faces; and when a man becomes aware of
them and puts his finger to them, thinking them flies"--the rest is
too nasty to quote. No wonder that Felix adds: "Unless Divine
Providence had thus ordered it, no man could live on board of large
old ships."

About the terrors of the deep he filled pages, for they impressed him
much. Sometimes, however, although an acute observer and a man who
loved the truth, Fabri was, I fear, imposed upon with travellers'
tales. Listen:--


 "Yet another peril is to be met with which is called Troyp, from
  the fish Trois, which, when it becomes aware of the ship, comes
  back from the depths and pierces the ship with his beak; for he
  has a beak fashioned like an augur, and unless he be driven away
  from the ship he bores through it. He cannot be forced away from
  the ship save by a fearless look, so that one should lean out of
  the ship over the water, and unflinchingly look into the eyes of
  the fish, while the fish meanwhile looks at him with a terrible
  gaze. If he who looks at the fish grows terrified and begins to
  turn his eyes away, the beast straightway rises, snatches him down
  beneath the water and devours him. Let this suffice about the
  perils of the sea."


Imagination fondly pictures the pious Felix and that fish trying to
stare each other out of countenance. Perhaps "Trois" had something to
do with the Jaffa legend that here Andromeda was bound and rescued
from the dragon. Of this story Sir John Mandeville (1322) has made a
most marvellous hash:--


 "And you shall understand that it (Joppa) is one of the oldest
  towns of the world, for it was founded before Noah's flood. And
  there may still be seen in the rock there the place where the iron
  chains were fastened, wherewith Andromeda, a great giant (/sic/),
  was bound and put in prison before Noah's flood; a rib of whose
  side, which is forty feet long, is still shown."


This is a downright libel on Andromeda, that fair maid whom we see in
every Academy, often three times over, attended by a pleasing variety
of dragons. Still, if some artist would paint her, or him, according
to Mandeville, the change would be refreshing.

Felix, a man of learning, has the legend much more correctly, but even
he talks of "the virgin giantess, Andromeda." Evidently, also, there
was something in Mandeville's story of the bone, since Felix says:--


 "The bones of that sea monster which Perseus slew were of vast
  size, and used to be publicly on the beach over against the city,
  and were shown to all who visited Joppa; but afterwards they were
  removed from thence to Rome by Titus and Vespasian, and hung up in
  a public place for a marvel, for, indeed, they were worthy of
  admiration, for every one of its ribs were forty-one feet in
  length. But Saint Silvester, and the other saints who consecrated
  Rome to Christ, broke up those bones and all other marvels, lest
  pilgrims should come hither to see them, and likewise lest
  pilgrims who had come to Rome for the sake of honouring God and
  His Apostles should lose their time and waste hours which might be
  spent in prayer in viewing such strange sights. Some declare that
  these were the bones of the virgin giantess Andromeda, which seems
  impossible, because Perseus took Andromeda away with him into
  Persia, and ended his days there, and we nowhere read of his
  coming back to Joppa."


It will be observed that Felix does not question the authenticity of
the bones because their dimensions are somewhat unusual, but because
Perseus took his wife to live with him elsewhere and did not bring her
back. The vision of a lady who measured eighty-two feet (not inches)
round the waist does not seem to have struck his imagination as a
thing particularly out of the common. Nor did he consider it from the
point of view of her husband Perseus, or, indeed, of the poor dragon
who was expected to eat her.

Josephus also mentions the matter, but in a very different style; his
was not an age of fable. He says:--


 "Here is the impression of Andromeda's chain, which is supposed to
  have been cut in the rock with a view to giving credibility to the
  ancient fable."


In truth these old chroniclers, whether for fact or fiction, are very
fascinating to read. In their pages we are transported to a realm
strangely real yet fanciful. There, like the figments of some dream,
peoples and rulers long departed pass in shadowy procession before our
eyes. The things they strove for, their ambitions, their rare virtues,
their bloody crimes are matters to muse on in an idle hour--no more.
They have gone, utterly; all their tumults and battlings are dust, for
the most part unfruitful as that of their own bones. Their very names
are forgotten, not one in a million is known, and of these how many
are remembered even by students? Yet the sea of Jaffa which affrighted
them still hisses by the vessel's side, the narrow Via Dolorosa upon
the holy hill of Zion, that they trod--some of them with sighs and
tears, or, some of them, "up to their horses' knees in blood"--still
lies open to our feet. The pale olives of Gethsemane beneath which
they knelt still flower and fruit upon the Mount. The stage is the
same, only the actors have changed. That ancient frame does continual
duty to new pictures which the showman Time throws upon his screen.
here the series grows long, stretching from the day of Moses down. But
how many more of them are there to come, those strange
forth-shadowings of generations yet unborn, not to be born, perhaps,
for thousands upon thousands of years, so deep in time that to them we
may seem further off than Moses is to us? Well, such speculations lead
nowhere, so let us return to our own particular pilgrimage experienced
in our own individual hour.

The embarkation at Haifa was disagreeable, and the night on board was
crowded, circumstances that added to our joy when we found the morning
fine, and were therefore relieved of the terror of being carried on
prematurely to Port Said. This was the second time in my life that I
have passed through the grinning jaws of the Jaffa reefs. Once a good
many years ago when I chanced to be off this port, I landed and spent
a day there, just to be able to think that I had trodden the soil of
the Holy Land. I remember on this occasion witnessing a furious
quarrel between a custom-house guard in a boat and a washerwoman
bringing off clean linen to a ship in another boat. The guard wanted
to seize the linen, or probably to extort /baksheesh/, but the lady
defended her goods with a shrill and voluble tongue, calling this
representative of the Ottoman law unsavoury names, and reflecting upon
his parents for several generations back. Indeed, as her boat bobbed
up and down over the swell, she shook her fist beneath the watchman's
martial nose till at length, thoroughly out-talked, he drew his pistol
on her, and thus I left them. Now, oddly enough, no one seems able to
tell me the end of the story.

Landing at Jaffa is a tumultuous affair even in the best of weather,
but we accomplished it without so much as a wetting, and were marched
to the hotel where we had six or eight hours to wait until the train
started for Jerusalem.

Jaffa, the Joppa of the Bible, has much the same history as other
coast towns in Palestine. It was taken by Pharaoh Thotmes III. and was
the port of the Holy City whither in the days of Hiram came the cedar
from Lebanon. "And we will cut wood out of Lebanon, as much as thou
shalt need; and we will bring it thee in floats by sea to Joppa, and
thou shalt carry it up to Jerusalem." And again in Ezra: "They gave
money also unto the masons and to the carpenters; and meat and drink
and oil unto them of Zion, and to them of Tyre, to bring cedar trees
from Lebanon to the sea of Joppa, according to the grant that they had
of Cyrus, king of Persia."

The Jews, the Greeks, and the Romans were its masters, all in turn;
several times it has been razed--by Cestius, by Vespasian, by
Melik-el-Adil twice, by Saladdin, by Richard of England, by Beibars,
by Napoleon. In the time of Felix Fabri the place, of which he says,
"I believe that there is hardly another such abominable harbour to be
found in the whole circuit of the sea," seems to have been almost a
total ruin. At any rate, the only lodging for the pilgrim was "a
darksome and decayed dwelling beneath a ruinous vault, known as St.
Peter's cellars, wherein the Saracens thrust him, even as men are wont
to thrust a sheep into a stable to be milked." As the place was full
of the most abominable filth, we learn with satisfaction that "in this
cavern there is a seven years' indulgence, which the pilgrim obtains
if he enters therein with a devout spirit."

There is very little to see in Jaffa, although the traveller is shown
the roof upon which St. Peter slept when the vision of things clean
and unclean came to him, as he "tarried many days in Joppa with one
Simon a tanner." This site, as Baedeker points out, has been changed
of late years; formerly it was at the Latin monastery, now it is over
a little mosque. It seems probable that there is nothing to prove the
authenticity of either spot. How can there be in a town which has been
destroyed so many times? What is authentic and unchangeable, however,
is the heap of dirt outside the door of the sacred building. After
many years I knew the sight of it again; also its noisome scent
floated into my nostrils like some sweet remembered odour of earliest
childhood. There it lies, that miniature but ancestral midden, and
there, doubtless, it will lie from generation to generation until the
Turk departs from the coasts of Syria.

Thence we drove to the Greek church, where the visitor is shown what
is said to be the tomb of Tabitha and the place where Peter "gave her
his hand and lifted her up, and . . . presented her alive," so that
"it was known throughout all Joppa, and many believed in the Lord."
The tomb seems to be some ancient catacomb, but whether or no the
bones of Tabitha reposed in it, who can tell?

When last I was here, as I have noted was the case at Famagusta, in
Cyprus, the orange groves were beautiful to behold. Now ninety trees
out of every hundred are diseased, though I am not sure that the pest
which is destroying them is the same as has devastated Cyprus. I am
inclined to think that they are more afflicted by some sickness of the
root than with the brown and black scale. At least the results are
identical--thousands of them are dying.

In the Armenian monastery there is a room, if any care to look at it,
where a peculiarly dreadful tragedy is said to have occurred, that of
a poisoning of a number of his own soldiers who were smitten with the
plague, by order of Napoleon the Great, when he retreated from Jaffa
in 1799. It seems probable, however, that this story is exaggerated.
According to Batjin's "Napoleon 1er," the only history of the emperor
which I have at hand, the men were not poisoned. But, as it was
determined to leave them behind, to enable them to escape massacre at
the hands of the Turks, poison was placed by their bedsides, which
they could swallow if they thought fit.

Napoleon is represented as having said, "Je serais toujours disposé à
faire pour mes soldats ce que je ferais pour mon propre fils," a
sentiment which, considering the occasion, will make most people
thankful that Providence did not do them the honour of appointing to
them this distinguished parent. M. Batjin, we may gather, does not
share that view, since the heading of the chapter under which he deals
with this gruesome incident is "nouvel example de sa (Bonaparte's)
sollicitude pour les pestiferés." One wonders if the poor
"pestiferés," before partaking of the bane so thoughtfully provided in
order to save their beloved general the trouble of their transport,
defined his sympathetic foresight in exactly the same words.

Like many other men whom we call "great," Napoleon did not stick at
trifles. Some pages back I talked of the performance of Richard
Coeur-de-Lion, when he caused whole regiments of captive Saracens to
be massacred outside Acre, and added, I think, that such acts tended
to blight the reader's ideal of the vaunted chivalry of the period. At
the moment I had forgotten that but one century ago the same thing
happened outside Jaffa, Bonaparte, possibly inspired by his example,
but with even less excuse, filling the rôle of Richard of England.
There, on those shell-strewn sands, he marched out his captives and
butchered them, "taking precautions to prevent any escaping." M.
Batjin's sole comment upon the occurrence, so far as I can discover,
is: "La ville fut prise d'assaut, le même jour a cinq heurs du soir,
4000 hommes de la garnison furent passé par les armes." Clearly our
author thinks it well to be a little blind to such lapses of the
national hero into mediaevalism.

If all the trains that leave Charing Cross in the course of a busy day
were to start during one single hour, I do not suppose that the sum of
the noise and confusion would equal that which occurs at the station
at Jaffa when the daily tram--it is scarcely more--gets itself off for
Jerusalem. Heavens! how those dusky, untamed sons of the desert fight
and yell. How they stagger to and fro beneath the boxes, hurling them
to earth here, there, and everywhere. How they clamour for
/baksheesh/! How they rush to procure seats for their various patrons
and demand more /baksheesh/! What life, what excitement, what turmoil,
what arguments, what deadly feuds! What vociferations on the part of
the officials! But we get off somehow in a very crowded carriage, and
the various dragomen, clad in their best attire for the entry into
Jerusalem, explain, as their command of English or French gives them
grace, the wonders through which we are passing.

Here is the fertile plain of Sharon looking rather desolate beneath
its cloak of windy wet. There is the place where the ark was set up in
the temple of Dagon to the dire discomfiture of the Philistines, who
suffered so sorely from its presence and found it so difficult to be
rid of. Yonder, according to all traditions, Samson tied torches to
the tails of a vast number of foxes--I think it was three hundred.
This feat leaves the modern wondering how he managed to snare so many
all at once, for in any time or country to catch a fox is not easy.
There, too, in that village he was born, and there he died.

Old Testament history, studied from the windows of a railway carriage,
becomes, it must be confessed, a little confusing. But without doubt
this was the territory of the Philistines, and the fact brings home to
the mind how very small is the area wherein were enacted the great
events recorded in the Bible. Soon the plains are left behind, and we
begin to climb the mountains that lie about Jerusalem like a wall.
Barren hill succeeds barren hill. Perhaps once they were clothed with
vineyards; now only flowering cyclamen grow in the crannies of the
rocks.

At length, about six o'clock, the train pulls up, and once more fierce
confusion begins to reign. We have reached Jerusalem. The mountain
wind blows bitterly; the rain falls in torrents, and everywhere one
steps in liquid mud. Sometimes it is two, sometimes four, sometimes
six inches deep; the experienced choose the two-inch strata, the
flurried wallow in the six-inch depths. The local Cook appears, drags
us into a carriage, and off we flounder. Presently, what looks like a
mediaeval tower rises before us. We are informed that it is the castle
of David, now the Turkish citadel, which is believed to be, at any
rate so far as its foundations are concerned, the Phasaël built by
Herod, one of the few places that Titus did not destroy when he sacked
the town and burned the temple. We pass through the Jaffa gate and the
walls built by the Saracens, that still give to Jerusalem the
appearance of a strongly-fortified, mediaeval city, and so, by streets
which we cannot distinguish in the wet and gathering gloom, to our
hotel.

Next morning we awoke to the sound of a roaring gale and of rain
dashing against the window, such rain as, according to Bishop Arculf,
who visited Jerusalem about the year 700, "exhibits God's peculiar
attachment to this place" by washing out the streets after an annual
fair. It was cold also, bitterly cold; almost might the traveller have
fancied himself once more in Florence. I clad myself very warmly,
topping up with a covert coat and a macintosh, but when David saw me
as we prepared to start upon our expedition, he said it would not do
at all, that I did not understand the climate of Jerusalem, and must
put on my ulster also. I obeyed, and before I returned thanked him for
his advice.

In places the narrow lanes of Jerusalem were running inches deep with
water beneath the lashing of the torrents which, as Arculf remarks,
provides them with their only washing. Indeed, they are filthy, almost
as filthy as those of Tiberias, if such a thing be possible,
especially in quarters inhabited by the Jews, where none should
linger. We passed through the crowded bazaars, now reeking in a damp,
cold mist that seemed to embalm the smells, accompanied by a /cavass/
from the Consulate and a soldier, whose protection is supposed to be
necessary to the visitor to the Harâm-esh-Sherif, the Noble Sanctuary,
where once stood the temples and palaces of Solomon and Herod. It is
approached, or, at least, we approached it, by a kind of covered-in
alley of a filthiness so peculiar and surpassing that before it
everything else of the kind which I have seen in the Holy Land sinks
its ineffectual stench. Imagine a people who are content that so foul
an avenue should lead to their great sanctuary.

We went up steps, and were within the sacred area. It is a great place
covering many acres--I never heard their number--but much of it is
overgrown with grass, amongst which were blooming blue flowers like
those of borage. Just now, also, it was sodden with rain--very grey
and desolate to the eye beneath the low, scudding clouds.

It was with curious feelings that at length I set my foot upon this
hill-top, the womb, as it were, of the world's fate, where have been
enacted so many of the most awful scenes of history, spiritual and
human. Here the Ark stood. Here great Solomon built his fane without
sound of saw or hammer, that fane which was to be destroyed and
re-arise, again to be destroyed and again arise. Here at last dawned
the light of that predestined day when the Roman eagles were borne
across it, and the hallowed temple of Jehovah went up in sheets of
fire to Heaven. Here the Veil was rent, and the Sanctuary desecrated,
while the blood of its votaries ran ankle-deep into the vaults below.
Men have worshipped here by millions. They have perished here by tens
and twenties of thousands. The voice of Christ has echoed here. The
shouts of the victors, the screams of the conquered, the moans of the
dying, the solemn sounds of sacrifice, the blare of ceremonial
trumpets, the daily whisper of a people's reverent prayer--it has
heard them all in turn. Here stood Solomon in his glory, and all the
congregation of Israel before the Ark of the Lord, in which was
nothing "save the two tablets of stone which Moses put there at
Horeb." Here "the cloud filled the House of the Lord," and Solomon
said, "I have surely built thee a house to dwell in, a settled place
for thee to abide in for ever." Here he prayed "that thine eyes may be
opened towards this house night and day." Here, too, came the answer
when Jehovah appeared to the king a second time, that his petition
should be fulfilled while the men of Israel and their children remain
faithful. But if not, "then will I cut off Israel out of the land
which I have given them; and this house, which I have hallowed for my
name, will I cast out of my sight; and Israel shall be a proverb and a
by-word among all people: And at this house, which is high, every one
that passeth by it shall be astonished, and shall hiss; and they shall
say, Why hath the Lord done thus unto this land, and to this house?"

Are they not astonished, and do not the nations of the earth speak
thus to-day when the high home of God has become a chief tabernacle of
the false prophet, where the Christian is admitted under guard and on
sufferance, and the Jew, whose heritage it is, may not so much as set
his foot?



                             CHAPTER XIX

       THE NOBLE SANCTUARY, THE POOLS OF SOLOMON AND BETHLEHEM

The Mosque of the Rock, known as the Noble Sanctuary, where once stood
the Temple of the Jews, is a beautiful building, even to those who,
like myself, do not particularly admire the oriental style of
architecture; also it is already ancient. At its door a Mahommedan
priest received us, and rough wrappings of sackcloth were bound about
our feet, which, as they were wet through and cold, to me were
comfortable. Then we entered the place, where we found ourselves quite
alone. It is spacious with a great dome; its windows are full of
lovely and ancient stained glass; its walls set with harmonious
Eastern tiles; its floors covered with rich carpets. Underneath the
dome, fifty feet or more in length, surrounded by an old iron screen
and one of wood, stands the sacred rock, where Abraham is said to have
made ready Isaac for slaughter, where, too, as seems to be generally
admitted, stood the Jewish altar of Sacrifice for many generations.
Indeed there is a hole pierced through its centre that received, it is
thought, the blood of the victims, which was carried away by the
drains beneath.

Some fine, natural instinct, or perhaps a priestly tradition, caused
the Hebrews to leave that rock untouched. Except for the steps cut on
it by the Crusaders it is much as Nature made it in the beginning, and
doubtless so it will remain until the end. Millions of years ago it
was heaved up in the first cataclysms of the universe. Thousands, or
millions of years hence it will crumble and disappear in the last
general catastrophe. The sacred associations that make it famous above
every other stone in the world--even that of Mecca--will cling, as it
were, to but one hour of the immeasurable aeons during which it is
destined to endure. Through long, long epochs it must have been but a
rock upon a mountain breast. Through other epochs yet to come again it
may be but a rock upon a mountain breast. But for two thousand years
or so it was the Altar of God, that atom of His wide creation from
which His chosen people offered Him praise and incense, symbolised in
their burnt sacrifices. This rugged mass of stone impressed me more
than all the vaunted glories of the Noble Sanctuary. Also it is a true
relic. The courts, the walls, the columns, they have vanished every
one. No trace of them is left above the ground. Yet that rock of ages
still remains, the only thing, as I suppose, connected with their
worship which has witnessed the history of the Jews almost from the
beginning, that still witnesses it, and will in some far age witness
its end, whatever that end may be.

We saw many things in the mosque. For instance, there is the cavern
beneath the rock, with places where David and Solomon used to pray,
and a round hole above, made, we were solemnly assured, by the head of
Mahomet as he went up to heaven like a cannon-ball. This hole,
however, as I believe, has to do with the blood channels from the
altar of Sacrifice. The Mussulmen say that at the last Judgment the
Almighty will take His seat upon this rock, and that beneath the
cavern is the Pit of Spirits, where on certain days in every week the
deceased assemble to their devotions. Visitors to the Noble Sanctuary
hear many such stories, most of them connected with the Prophet, all
of which must be listened to with becoming gravity and reverence. For
my part, I found the task trying, as, without indorsing friend Felix's
vigorous views,[*] I chance to hold strong opinions upon the subject
of this prophet, whose doctrines will, I believe, cause even more
bloodshed and misery in the world in the future than they have brought
upon it in the past. It is, however, a part of the experience.

[*] At this time Mahomet, the devil incarnate, the first-born of
    Asmodeus, the son of Belial, the messenger of Satan, the deceiver
    of the world, the confusion of mankind, the destroyer of the
    Church of God, the false prophet, the forerunner of Antichrist,
    yea, Antichrist himself, the fulfilment of heresies, the corrupter
    of the divine laws, the persecutor of the faithful, and the
    miracle of all that is false, began to display his madness, that
    the lamentable prophecy set forth in Revelations xiii. about him
    might be fulfilled, because he was that horrible and detestable
    beast whom John saw rising out of the earth, having two horns--and
    so forth.--/The Book of the Wanderings of Brother Felix Fabri/.

Among other things we were shown a stone slab into which Mahomet, who,
by the way, I believe was never here in the flesh, hammered nineteen
golden nails. At the end of every century, or upon the occurrence of
any very important event, the devil removes one of these nails. He has
now got them all except three and a half, for the angel Gabriel just
caught him in time and caused him to break one in his hurry. When he
succeeds in abstracting the rest, the world will come to a sudden end,
or thus say the Mahommedans. What a chance is here for that
practically-minded traveller of whose dealings with an ancient lamp I
have already told the tale. Picture the faces of the faithful when
next morning they found those last nails gone, and the end of all
things coming up like a torpedo-boat under a full head of steam. Only
he might find these warlike Moslems more difficult to deal with than
proved the poor old priest.

Our holy guide intimated to me that by placing money upon this
nail-stone I should assure my eternal safety. Accordingly I purchased
salvation to the value of ninepence in small change, which he
pocketed. Then we went on and saw more wonders.

Leaving the Mosque of the Dome, we visited the Dome of the Chain, a
beautiful little building which is called David's Judgment-seat, and
also the Dome of the Ascension, a memorial of another of the miracles
of Mahomet. Then we were shown the entrances to various cisterns,
especially a vast reservoir which must have existed in the time of our
Lord, that is known as "The Sea." This used to be supplied with water
from Solomon's Pools, that lie at a distance of several miles from
Jerusalem. Next we came to the Mosque el-Aksa, known, too, as the
Mosque of Omar, because that Caliph defiled it, converting it from a
Christian church into a place of worship according to the Prophet. It
is still very beautiful, with a nave, aisles, and a basilica, which
were built by the Emperor Justinian to serve as a shrine to the
Virgin. Here we were regaled with more Mahommedan legends, a well
being shown to us down which some good man went after a fallen bucket,
contrary to every expectation to find himself in Paradise. Also, there
are two columns set close together, and he who cannot squeeze between
them has no hope of Heaven. It seems, however, that so many stout
Moslems got set fast or injured themselves in their mad attempt to
pass where natural curves would not permit, that now the practice is
forbidden, and the space between the columns has been shut off with a
railing.

Such follies were not always confined to Mahommedans, however, since
Felix Fabri mentions that about the year 1480 there was a place
between a pillar and a wall, I think, in the Church of the Holy
Sepulchre, through which pilgrims tried to squeeze. Those who
succeeded received a considerable remission of their purgatorial
pains, especially promised and guaranteed by those who had control of
the matter.

The pulpit in this mosque is a rich miracle of good carving. It dates
from 1168, and is said to have been presented by Saladin.

Leaving the Mosque of Omar we descended into vast crypt-like vaults,
which are called Solomon's stables, though experts declare that they
were rebuilt in Saracenic times. It is, however, quite possible that
the horses of the Jewish kings once stood in these caverns. Indeed I
have noticed how common it is in the East to use caves or underground
places as a stable, probably because these are cooler in summer.
Whoever built or rebuilt them, certainly the Crusaders made use of
this sub-structure, for holes bored in angles of the columns can still
be seen through which ran their halter ropes. In a passage leading to
these vaults we were shown gigantic blocks of stone which, I suppose,
were put in place by Phoenician workmen in the days of Solomon. That
they could be moved at all without the aid of modern machinery is
little short of wonderful.

Having inspected everything, at length we emerged by a narrow stairway
into the open, and walked across a great expanse of the temple field
to the eastern wall. It was soaked with rain, but as I went I could
not help remembering that there were periods in its history when it
has been as wet as this with blood. Here in one day fell 8500 men in a
struggle between the Zealots and the party of John during the siege by
Titus. Here too, at the conclusion of that siege, a motley multitude
of 6000 were shrivelled up in the conflagration of the royal cloister,
while 10,000 others were slaughtered without by the Roman soldiery.

Mounting the walls by steps built in them, we could see beneath us the
Valley of Jehoshaphat, with its thousands of tombs covering the dust
of Jews who have been brought hither for burial. A very ancient
tradition among both Christians and Moslems tells that here will be
the scene of the last Judgment. It is founded, I suppose, upon the
verses in Joel: "Let the heathen be wakened (new version: Let the
nations bestir themselves) and come up to the Valley of Jehoshaphat:
for there will I sit to judge all the heathen (new version: All the
nations) round about. . . . Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of
decision: for the day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision.
The sun and the moon shall be darkened, and the stars shall withdraw
their shining. The Lord also shall roar out of Zion, and utter his
voice from Jerusalem; and the heavens and the earth shall shake."

Then the prophet goes on to tell that thereafter Jerusalem shall be
holy, "and there shall no strangers pass through her any more."

In the day of Felix Fabri the Saracens of Palestine already held this
belief, though the Arabs placed the last Judgment at Mecca, and the
Syrians selected Damascus. Those who put their faith in the Valley of
Jehoshaphat said that there would be three Judges--the Almighty, the
Christ, and Mahomet. The First Person was to be seated on the pinnacle
of the temple, the Second Person on the top of the Mount of Olives,
while the Prophet, present in the capacity of a councillor, would take
his place upon a piece of broken column, which to this day still
projects from the wall of the Haram. Another tradition is that Christ
and Mahomet will be the judges, Mahomet occupying a place upon the
Mount of Olives. Between the Mount and the column, spanning the Valley
of Jehoshaphat, will stretch a rope, over which every soul must pass.
The fate of the wicked may be guessed, but the righteous will go
across with the ease of a Blondin.

About this broken pillar--I wonder, by the way, how it can possibly
have come into its present position--Felix tells a curious story with
which I do not remember meeting elsewhere. Not long before his time a
certain Saracen prophet came to the Valley of Jehoshaphat, followed by
all the people of the city, to whom he promised that he would show to
them details hitherto unknown concerning the last Judgment. To that
end "this child of the devil" climbed up to the broken pillar by help
of ladders, and, seating himself astride upon it with his back to the
wall, began to prophesy. Unfortunately for himself, evidently he was a
preacher with action, and, forgetting the dangerous nature of his
seat, yielded to the excitement of the moment, and began to fling
about his arms. Now, this column, as we still may see, has been highly
polished, and presently there happened to that unfortunate expounder
of the last Judgment an accident such as is apt to chance to careless
people who ride with loose girths. Suddenly he slipped, and, his seat
being so smooth, was quite unable to recover himself. One frantic,
ineffectual grasp, and where his head had been appeared his heels;
then down he came, and was smashed like an egg in the Valley of
Jehoshaphat, a catastrophe over which Felix does not seem to grieve.
"The silly people," he remarks, "were confounded, and went back into
the city, every man to his own home. Thus did the false prophet,
contrary to his intention, show them the proof not by words but by
deeds."

Felix mentions also, in another volume, that in his day there was a
Moslem cemetery in the valley, opposite to the Golden Gate, to which
he was not allowed to approach. Formerly, it seems, the Latins and
Armenians celebrated an annual festival at this gate, through which
our Lord is said to have passed on the first Palm Sunday, "until, at
the instigation of the devil, the Saracens began to bury their damned
dead here, after which they blocked up the gate."

"Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision." Standing on that
lofty wall, and looking northwards, what a picture is called up! The
wide white-tombed valley full of dead, the naked mountains beyond
choked with dead standing rank above rank even in the empty air till
their number joins earth to heaven; the myriad dead of every age and
generation come hither unto judgment. From the countless graves below,
from the way of the sea, from each acre of earth's surface, dead,
dead, nothing but dead, rushing on to judgment in the gorge of
Jehoshaphat. "Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision." And
above, facing each other in the sick heaven, the black balls of the
sun and moon discerned by the light of the flaring, shivering, dying
stars!

Walking along the wall we came to the Golden Gate, which by some is
believed to be the Beautiful Gate spoken of in the Acts. No man goes
through it for it is built up. Here passed Christ, while the people
cried Hosanna and threw palms upon His path. The Mahommedans have a
belief that on a certain Friday, none know when, a Christian conqueror
will enter by this gate and hunt them from Jerusalem for ever. Perhaps
that is why they wall it up. In itself the building is striking, but I
will not attempt its detailed description. Experts say that in its
present form it dates from the Byzantine period.

At length we had visited everything we were allowed to look at, and
turned for a while to contemplate the whole expanse of this great and
sacred place that has seen so much, and for aught we know, has still
so much to see. Then we parted from our guide and guard with mutual
compliments, pointed in a manner best understood in the East, and
returned to the city, following the tortuous line of the Via Dolorosa.
Along this street the Saviour is supposed to have borne His
cross--indeed, by tablets and otherwise, each "station" is recorded to
an inch, upon what authority I have not been able to discover. Still
millions have accepted and continue to accept the tradition.

Afterwards we visited what is now shown as the Pool of Bethesda. I
cannot say if it is the true site which has been claimed for other
springs. This is certain, however, that it agrees very closely with
the conditions described in the Gospels. Many steps lead to this
darksome pool--to be accurate, there are two pools. The steepness of
these steps makes it evident that no maimed or impotent person could
have climbed down them quickly without assistance. It is possible,
however, that here were nothing but cisterns, fed by some underground
fountain. Above are the remains of a chapel, discovered, I understand,
in the course of recent excavations, and built apparently during the
crusading period.

Our next expedition of importance was to the Pools of Solomon, about
six miles from Jerusalem, which once they helped to supply with water.
Now the aqueduct is broken, and practically the only water in the city
is obtained from cisterns that are filled by the rains. So long as
these cisterns remain clean their water is good, but they are not
always clean. Also towards the end of summer the supply fails. Then
there is much sickness.

It is said, I believe with truth, that some years ago the Baroness
Burdett-Coutts offered to restore the broken aqueduct at a cost of
about £20,000. Thereupon the Turkish authorities, wishing to profit by
this strange folly of a Frank, asked for another £3000 /baksheesh/ in
return for the honour that must accrue to a stranger who, at her own
expense, proposed to provide their city with a supply of pure water. I
am glad to say that, according to the story, the Baroness refused to
submit to this imposition. Subsequently, after the pause common in the
East, it was intimated to her that her original offer would be
accepted. To this she is reported to have replied that she had now
spent the money in building or endowing a church in England. As a
result, Jerusalem remains, and is likely to remain, without any
constant supply of drinking water.

Here it is the same in every case. A gentleman who is resident in the
city told me that he had applied for leave to mend at his own expense
a hole in the road running past his house. The answer was that he must
pay for the privilege. The Sultan, it was explained to him, could mend
his own road if he liked, or, if it pleased his Imperial Wisdom, could
leave it unmended. In the issue he left it unmended.

We drove out through the Jaffa Gate, past the Hill of Evil Council,
where Caiaphas and his colleagues are said to have decided upon the
destruction of the Saviour. On a ridge above stands a tortured-looking
wind-bent tree, apparently an oak, to which Judas is reported to have
hanged himself. In the account by Bishop Arculf, as taken down by
Adamnan, the Abbot of the Isle of Iona, upon which he was shipwrecked
on his return from the East in the days of the Northumbrian king
Alfred--that is, at the end of the seventh century--the Judas tree was
shown upon much the same spot. Arculf, however, describes it as a
large fig-tree, and that it is not still a fig I am unable to assert
with confidence, for we did not go close enough to verify its species.
Mandeville, 600 years later, speaks of it as an elder-tree, but Sir
John can scarcely be counted as an authority on this or any other
matter.

Further on we came to the little building that is shown as the tomb of
Rachel, of which the site at any rate appears to have been accepted
for many centuries. Certainly she must have been buried very near by,
for Jacob says in Genesis: "And as for me, when I came from Padan,
Rachel died by me in the land of Canaan in the way, when yet there was
but a little way to come unto Ephrath: and I buried her there in the
way of Ephrath: the same is Bethlehem."

Leaving Bethlehem to be visited on our return, we drove to the Pools
of Solomon. They are splendid reservoirs, three of them, lying one
below the other, fed from the spring known as the Sealed Fountain and
other sources. Of the three pools the first is the smallest, and the
last, which is nearly two hundred yards long by fifty broad and
sixteen deep, is the largest. I am ignorant who built them, Solomon or
another, but Pontius Pilate is said to have restored them, and once
they fed Jerusalem with water. Now, as I have told, the conduit is
broken, so the water runs no further than Bethlehem. Also I noticed
that, like everything else in this land, the pools themselves are
falling into disrepair. Thus the sluices connecting the two of them, I
think the first and second, are broken down, so that the water is
forced to find its way by an overground channel of its own. Upon the
day of our visit a furious gale was blowing which caused the waves to
dash over the retaining wall of the pools, as though they had been
born in the depths of a veritable sea. Studied from below the effect
was very striking.

Near to the head of the first pool is a large castle-like building, as
usual in ruins, said to have been created 300 or 400 years ago as a
protection against Arab tribes. I pushed the rough door aside and
entered. In the gateway an old goose was sitting which hissed at me,
and beyond were the ruins of many walls and chambers mixed up with an
attempt at a muddy garden. Except for this goose the place was quite
deserted.

From Solomon's Pools we drove to Bethlehem, now a crowded,
narrow-streeted little town, for the most part inhabited by
Christians. In front of the church of St. Mary, which covers the
traditional and, as I believe, the undisputed spot of the Nativity of
our Lord, is a large flagged space, bordered by tombs. Once the atrium
of the church stood here, but this has long been destroyed. At present
the front looks like a blank wall erected by many builders at many
ages in many different materials, and subsequently buttressed up. Were
it not for the little iron cross standing at the apex of the gable,
none would guess the sacred character of the building beyond.

We passed in by a humble door that seems to strive to hide itself away
in the shadow, the original main entrances having been bricked up in
past days, I suppose from fear of the Turks and Bedouins. Within is a
majestic fane, reared by the Emperor Constantine in the year 330, and
I believe in all essentials not greatly changed since his day,
although amongst other restorations the roof was repaired in 1482, its
materials being given by Edward IV. and Philip of Burgundy. The
transept and apse of the basilica have been walled off during the last
century, so that all the visitor sees as he comes in is the noble,
naked nave and its aisles, supported by pillars each hewn from a
single rock. This part of the building is remarkable for its disrepair
and neglected aspect. None of the Christians seem to wish to beautify
or preserve it, for the strange reason that it belongs to all the
Christians. Latins, Greeks, Armenians, each have their share in it,
and therefore individually will do nothing, lest they should benefit
the property of their fellow-worshippers of another shade of faith.
Such conduct and the constant bitter quarrels that break out between
them here, in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, and everywhere
throughout Palestine--what an example do they give to the Moslem who
stands by and mocks at the mutual hates of these "Christian dogs"?

A gentleman in Jerusalem told me that not long ago he found a Turkish
soldier on guard in some part of this church, where it was not usual
for a sentry to be, and inquired of him why he was there. He pointed
to a nail in the wall and replied--

"It is my duty to watch that nail."

Asked why, he explained that the Latins, or the Greeks, I forget
which, had driven in the nail with a view of hanging a picture; that
the rival sect had furiously objected, saying that it was an
interference with their property, and wanted to pull out the nail.
That thereupon the Turkish Government had intervened and set him to
watch the nail and see that no picture was hung upon it, and that it
was not pulled out. To allow the picture to be hung would have been to
admit the claims of those who drove in the nail; to allow it to be
pulled out would have been to admit the claims of those who objected
to the driving in of the nail. Therefore the nail must be preserved,
and the picture must not be hung, and, to see that this was so, an
armed sentry must watch day and night. For aught I know he may be
watching still. At any rate the story is as instructive as it is true.

Very much the same state of affairs seems to have prevailed in the
time of Felix Fabri, who tells us that the Greeks owned the choir, the
Latins the cave of the Lord's Nativity, and the Armenians an altar at
the place of the Three Kings' Offerings. Whether they all of them then
owned the nave and aisles jointly, I do not know, although I gather
that they did. This is what he says:--


 "This church at Bethlehem is in its upper part profaned and
  desecrated, nor has it one single lamp in its upper part, neither
  in the choir nor in the nave nor in the chapels, but it stands
  like a barn without hay, an apothecary's shop without pots of
  drugs, or library without books; the precious pictures are
  dropping from the walls, and there is no one to restore them. Yet
  we are thankful that the body of the church is still standing."


Felix, who could be very credulous where Christian wonders are
concerned, relates some strange and pleasing stories about this
church. One of them is to the effect that the "Soldan" came to the
Place of the Nativity to destroy it. The destruction commenced
accordingly, but the Soldan, noting the excellence of the carved
slabs, and of the columns, ordered that they should be removed to be
put to other purposes. Then--"Oh! miracle and prodigy meet to be
proclaimed among the faithful"--while the workmen were at the task
under the eye of their master--


 "Out of the unbroken, solid wall, which it seemed that even a
  needle could not pierce, there came forth a serpent of wondrous
  size, who bent his head back against the wall, and gave a bite to
  the first marble slab, and split it with his fiery tongue."


/Vires acquirit eundo/--for, put upon his mettle by the smashing of
these slabs, the said serpent leapt next into the chapel of the Three
Kings, "ran along that highly-polished wall whereon not even a spider
could plant its feet, split forty-two slabs in two and disappeared."

After this the reader will not marvel that the Soldan was astounded,
and abandoning his predatory purposes, got out of the church as fast
as he could go. The tracks of the serpent, however, which looked as
though "hot irons had been held against the stones"--possibly they
had, but this does not seem to have occurred to honest Felix--remained
in his day. Indeed he informs us that "I beheld the traces of this
miracle with great pleasure, and often looked curiously upon them with
inward wonderment."

To return from wandering with the fascinating Felix. After admiring
the nave and aisles we passed into the transept and apse, where we saw
the gorgeous altars of the various sects, and alongside the Latin
Church of St. Catherine. Then we went down some steps into the chapel
of the Nativity. It is lighted by many lamps, of a good size and
marble-lined throughout. Beneath an altar, a plain silver star is let
into the pavement, and with it the inscription /Hic de Virgine Maria
Jesus Christus natus est/.

This, according to all traditions, is I believe the holy and
undisputed spot of the birth of the Saviour upon earth. It is best not
to attempt to record the reflections to which the sight of it gives
rise; each reader can guess them for himself. Close at hand, at the
foot of a few steps, is a kind of trench lined with marble, said to be
the site of the manger in which the Lord was laid, the original (of
course discovered by the Empress Helena) having been despatched to
Rome. If the one spot is authentic, so doubtless is the other, but I
could wish that both of them had been left with a little less of
ornamentation and marble linings. This remark, however, applies to
almost every holy site in Palestine, except that of which I have
spoken, of the Transfiguration upon Mount Tabor, and one other place,
not in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, which I hope to describe
presently, where, as I believe, Christ was crucified.

Afterwards we visited more underground caverns, such as the Chapel of
the Innocents, where some of them are said to have been massacred or
buried, I am not sure which, and the chapel cut in the rock where St.
Jerome lived for many years and wrote his works. Then I returned alone
to the Chapel of the Nativity, which I was so fortunate as to find
quite empty, and stood there awhile, listening to the solemn, swelling
sound of the chanting monks as they marched from shrine to shrine
through the various caves and passages of the crypt.

Outside of this church a gang of mother-of-pearl vendors and other
folk who desired to beg or to sell something, threw themselves upon us
furiously, clamouring, beseeching, and pestering, till we were driven
almost mad with their importunities. This is one of the most
persistent troubles that the traveller must expect in the Holy Land.
He visits some sacred spot which he has longed to see from childhood,
and no sooner is he without its doors than a crowd of impudent scamps,
to whom the traditions of that place are a daily revenue, fall upon
him and disturb his mind and temper.

However, we got rid of all of them at last--except one little girl,
who simply declined to be driven away--and walked to a high crest on
the outskirts of the town, whence we saw the wide plain that runs to
the Dead Sea, and is bounded by the mountains of Moab. Below us,
enclosed by a wall, lay that olive garden where the angel is said to
have visited the "shepherds abiding in the field keeping watch over
their flock by night," and to have given them the "good tidings of
great joy which shall be to all people," while above the Heavenly
multitude gave "glory to God in the highest and on earth peace."

Thence breaking through the ranks of the mother-of-pearl sellers, who
now made their last desperate attack, we drove to David's Well. It was
from this well, when the Philistines held his city of Bethlehem, that
David longed for water. "Oh! that one would give me drink of the water
of Bethlehem which is by the gate." Then the three mighty men found a
path through the hosts of the Philistines and drew water from the well
and brought it to their prince. But David "poured it out unto the
Lord," saying, "Shall I drink the blood of the men that went in
jeopardy of their lives?"

I suppose that the well shown by the gate is the same, but, if so, I
do not think, however thirsty he might be, that David would wish to
drink of its water to-day, since all the surface drainage of the
garden finds its way into it; as by kneeling and looking down the well
I was able to discover. When questioned the priest in charge could
give no explanation. He only said that it had always been so.

Leaving this mystery unsolved, we drove back to Jerusalem. On our way
we passed the field that was bought to bury strangers in with the
price of the thirty pieces of betrayal, and that grim and desolate
valley--once the scene of the abomination of heathen worship--which
during the last 1500 years has received the bones of so many of those
travellers to whom Jerusalem has proved the place of their last
pilgrimage.



                              CHAPTER XX

        JERICHO, THE DEAD SEA, BETHANY, AND SOLOMON'S QUARRIES

The weather was still very cold and rainy on the morning that we
started from Jerusalem to visit Jordan, Jericho, and the Dead Sea.
Leaving at about eight o'clock, we crossed the head of the Valley of
the Kedron and drove to the cave on the Mount of Olives, now an
underground chapel, which is said to contain the tomb of the Virgin,
the tomb of her parents, the tomb of Joseph, and the grotto where the
last scene of the Agony is reported to have fallen upon our Lord while
His disciples slept around. These different sacred spots are in the
possession of the Greeks, the Armenians, and the Abyssinians, each of
those sects having an altar here. Also there is a place of prayer
reserved to the Mahommedans. It is needless to add that here, as
elsewhere, the various Foundations indulge in their scandalous and
discreditable rivalry. The church lies many feet underground, and is
approached by a broad flight of marble steps, so ill-lighted that the
visitor will do well if he proceeds like a blind man, tapping in front
of him with a stick.

On this morning the crowd and the confusion were great, for up and
down the steps poured two conflicting streams of hundreds of Russian
pilgrims, perspiring and malodorous, amongst whom we struggled in the
gloom. At their foot a somewhat mercenary monk provided us with
tapers, by the light of which we inspected the tomb of the Virgin. It
is covered with a marble slab, worn perfectly smooth by the lips of
pilgrims. These good people, and especially the Russians, think it
their duty to kiss every object of acknowledged or reputed sanctity. I
have seen them kneeling on the road kissing the ground, standing
against walls kissing the stones, and bowing themselves to kiss the
thresholds or the doors of buildings.

Owing to the multitude which surged to and fro, the sound of the
singing of the mass (I think, at two altars), the smoke of the burning
tapers, and the thick atmosphere arising from the presence in that
airless place of so many pious but unwashen persons, our visit was
disturbed and unsatisfactory. Indeed I was glad when we had struggled
up the steps again and found ourselves in the cold, refreshing air.

Next we walked to the Garden of Gethsemane, a spot the identity of
which seems never to have been doubted. It is the property of the
Franciscans, and enclosed by a wall rendered as hideous as may be with
stucco and bad pictures, although, fortunately, the existence of the
olives had made it impossible for any one to cover it with a roof.
Within the wall is a garden, and within that garden the true wonder of
the place--eight olive trunks, still living but of a vast antiquity,
here and there built up with stones to support them. So ancient are
these decaying trees that, taking into consideration the longevity of
the olive, it seems to me possible, and even probable, that amongst
them, or others which sprang from the same roots, the Saviour did
indeed pray and suffer. Yet they still push their leaves in spring and
bear their fruit in autumn.

Preceding and following us round the enclosure were many more Russian
pilgrims. I observed them closely, and noted that none of them seemed
to look at or pay attention to the sacred spot of ground, or to the
gaunt and hollow olives that grow within. At intervals on the wall,
however, are placed vile representations in plaster relief of various
scenes connected with the Passion. These are covered with iron
gratings, and the pilgrims as they went stopped before each grating
and kissed its bars. It is impossible to watch these people without
sympathy and respect; still it does appear almost piteous that they
should pay so much attention to the outward and visible side of
things, since this cannot but militate against a true appreciation of
the inward and spiritual. Yet their motive is pure and good, and for
the rest, who has a right to judge?

Shortly after leaving the Garden of Gethsemane we found our mounted
Bedouin escort waiting for us by the roadside. Nothing that I saw in
the demeanour of any of the inhabitants of the Dead Sea region, leads
me to suppose that the presence of guards was a necessity. But there
they are, and no traveller seems to be allowed to go to Jericho
without them. Possibly this is to be explained by the fact that they
are well paid for their services, and, in addition, receive a
/baksheesh/ from the object of their protective attentions. Possibly
also, if they were no longer employed, as they themselves vigorously
assert would be the case, accidents might overtake the pilgrim.
Without being uncharitable, I can conceive even that they, or some of
them, might be intimately concerned in those accidents. If a
respectable Bedouin guard has his means of livelihood taken away from
him, who could wonder if he should again relapse into the unregenerate
state of a disreputable Bedouin thief?

A little further on, situated upon a hillside to our right, in the
midst of several caverns that have, I suppose, served as tombs, we saw
the slaughterhouse of Jerusalem, with the butchers at their horrid
work in the full sight of passers-by, and the flocks of sheep and
other animals waiting their turn. It was a most unpleasant spectacle.

Next we passed through Bethany, without stopping, as we were to visit
it on our return, and at length came to the spot which is fabled to be
the scene spoken of by our Lord in the parable of the Good Samaritan
and the traveller who went down to Jericho and fell among thieves.
Here we rested the horses awhile, as the road, which, for a wonder,
had not been made for the German Emperor, was steep and slippery after
the rain, although it is the best in Palestine, and, indeed, by no
means bad, considering the engineering difficulties that must have
been overcome in its construction.

After leaving the Khan Hadrur the landscape as we drove became even
more lonesome and extraordinarily wild. It is impossible to describe
it better than by saying that it reminded me of the mountains of the
moon as seen through a telescope. White, arid, unpeopled, with
towering cliffs and vast rain-cut gullies, covered with round and
stunted bushes showing like green warts on the face of the hills,
uncultivated and uncultivable, the home of hawks and ravens, and here
and there of a few wandering goats, that make little beaten tracks
upon the mountain sides, it is the very ideal of desolation, a
wilderness of wildernesses. At the bottom of a precipitous, yawning
gulf runs the brook Cherith. Here, built half-way up the towering
cliff, to which it clings like a swallow's nest upon a wall, is a
Greek monastery that, as I am informed, marks the site of the cave in
which Elijah was fed by the ravens. Of this monastery, David, our
dragoman, told me a curious tale. He said that once when he visited
the place an old monk there took him out to the mountain-side,
carrying in his hand a basket of crumbs and other food. Here, leaving
David at a little distance, he stood still and whistled, whereon all
sorts of birds, wild doves and many others, emerged from the cliffs
and brushwood, and, after fluttering round, settled on the old man's
head and shoulders while he fed them from his hand. Surely upon this
monk must have fallen the mantle of sweet St. Francis of Assisi.

Now we began to descend precipitous slopes till the plain of Jericho
lay before us, a great expanse sprinkled with thorn-scrub and backed
by the mountains of Moab. Unfortunately for the most part it was
draped in mist and clouds, which hid the Dead Sea and blurred the
outline of the hills. Passing through Jericho, a horribly foul
village, where the population are said to be all thieves and most of
the children seemed diseased, we drove on to the mounds which are
reported to mark the site of the ancient city, whose walls fell down
at the sound of the trumpet. As these mounds are distinct and
isolated, however, it seems quite possible that they cover the ruins
of outlying towers and fortifications.

Then we visited a fine pool of fresh water, which we were informed is
fed by the spring that from bitter was made sweet by the prophet
Elisha. After this we drove back to the village and our hotel through
flat level land, which evidently is very fertile wherever it is
reached and irrigated by the waters of Elisha's pool.

We had left Jerusalem in bitter cold, but here, although it was still
early in the season, the air was hot and sultry, hotter even than at
Tiberias. It is easy to imagine that after their long wanderings
amongst sand and rocky deserts, this valley of Jordan, probably then
in a high state of cultivation, with the greater part of its rich soil
irrigated from the river and other sources by the industrious heathen
husbandmen, would have appeared to the Jews as a veritable Promised
Land flowing with milk and honey. Personally, however, it is not a
climate in which I should care to live; indeed, what between heat and
mosquitoes, most Europeans find it impossible in summer.

The road, or rather track, from Jericho to the Dead Sea is bad in
spots, especially at certain steep bits where it crosses streams, or
nullahs. It is, however, wonderful what obstacles a Jerusalem
rattle-trap will negotiate in safety. No English driver would dream of
taking his carriage down such places. The trail runs across an arid
plain impregnated with salt and bearing a scanty vegetation. Here and
there among the bushes bloom ranunculi, while little risi of a
peculiarly deep and lovely hue are common. Also many great, eagle-like
birds--I imagine they are a kind of kite, though what they all find to
live on I cannot quite understand--flit solemnly from thorn to thorn,
while porcupines burrow in the sand.

Every one, at Sunday-school or elsewhere, has learnt what there is to
learn about the Dead Sea. They know how it receives between six and
seven million tons of water daily and evaporates as much or more; how
it has no outlet, is over 1000 feet deep, and nearly 3000 feet below
the level of the Mediterranean; how its waters are so salty that it is
difficult to sink in them, and contain nothing that has life, except
the bacillus of tetanus, a germ not easily defeated. All have heard
also how it is full of asphalt such as is supposed to cover the
remains of Sodom and Gomorrah, and how people who bathe in it must
rush to the Jordan for a fresh-water dip lest their clothes should
stick to their skins. I will, therefore, pass over these with other
details, and attempt only to describe the Dead Sea, as I saw that
wonderful lake.

Leaving my companions, I walked away alone past the only house upon
these shores, a naked framework of poles that once had been covered
with rushes to give shelter in bad weather to travellers from Jericho.
This habitation and its surroundings seem singularly appropriate to
each other. At a distance I stopped and sat down to look. Before me
stretched miles and miles of sea, one great sheet of smooth grey
water, breaking into little oily waves beneath the wind. On its
margin, like a fringe of skeletons, lay a long unvarying line of dead,
white trees, some with the broken boughs still on them, and fantastic,
projecting roots mingled with masses of peeled brushwood, all of it
débris brought down by Jordan in times of flood. On either side were
spread the misty mountains; to the right Râs-el-Feshkha and Râs
Mersed, ending in the wilderness of Engedi; to the left the Ravines of
Zerkâ Mâ'in. There they towered, distorted, barren, desolate,
finishing leagues away, far off, and faintly seen in two giant,
embracing arms.

I rose and looked back. Behind me stretched the wide, arid plain,
clothed with a scant and thorny vegetation, dying and ash-coloured,
but tipped here and there with an unwholesome arsenic green. Bordering
it were fortress-like sandy mounts, fashioned and denuded by aeons of
sun and storm. Beyond those again a vast parapet of tortured hills
that might have been scooped and pointed as they came white-hot from
the womb of the world, where the furnace-blasts are hurricanes, to be
thrown hissing into a bath of ice, and fixed to eternal stone. Then,
yet further off for the last black background, a hanging veil of
storm.

I turned again and looked up. A distant gull travelled across the
foodless water where he might not stay, and a wild duck passed like an
arrow towards Jordan. There was no other life. Above me spread a dull
sky, broken by mountains of massed clouds, and between them little
valley-rifts of blue through which the sun shone rarely. Then
rain-bearing mist blotted the peaks of Moab, and hid from my sight
Nebo, whence Moses once beheld this very scene.

The Jordan, or those pools of it which we visited, lies three or four
miles from the banks of the Dead Sea. The track thither meanders over
flats of half-dried mire through which the horses struggle as best
they may, their drivers carrying with them logs of wood that they pick
up upon the shores of the sea, to set beneath the wheels in the worst
of the mud-holes.

At this season of the year, and in contrast to the desert round about,
the banks of swift and muddy Jordan are lovely and refreshing to the
eye, with their dense growth of willows, poplars, and tarfa trees clad
in the vivid green of new-come foliage. Reed birds were to be seen
also, and flashing past us one of those lovely halcyons that I noted
on the Sea of Galilee.

We were told that a baptism was about to be celebrated in the waters
of Jordan, the candidate being an American lady already past middle
age. I doubted the story, but sure enough from the boat which I had
hired in order to row up the stream we saw the party, consisting of a
Greek priest in his tall hat, a native woman with a bath towel, or
some garment that resembled it, and the candidate, all looking
perplexedly at each other upon the reedy brink of Jordan. We then
learned that the baptism was to be by immersion, so I thought it time
to direct the boatman to move on.

We finished our row, and returned, but things did not seem to be much
advanced. There was the perplexed-looking priest, there was the woman
with the mysterious garment, and there the candidate sitting
disconsolate on the ground in a kind of a reedy bower. We landed, and
were informed that the ceremony was to be delayed till after our
departure, whereupon, of course, we hurried away.

Next morning we heard the conclusion of the matter from David, who had
it from a brother dragoman who remained. It appears that the candidate
wished to be baptized by total immersion. The Greek priest who had
been retained for the occasion declined this method, saying that he
did not immerse, and knew nothing about that ceremony. He offered,
however, to baptize in the ordinary fashion by the sign of the cross,
but, so simple a rite being rejected as unsatisfactory, things came to
a deadlock, which explained the perplexed air of all concerned when we
left them. After our departure further argument ensued, but neither
party could be moved.

Then it was when everything seemed hopeless that there happened what
in past days would doubtless have been set down to miracle. Suddenly
out of the reed and willow swamps of Jordan issued a Baptist minister,
who, so we were informed, without warning of the proposed rite or
acquaintance with the candidate, chanced to be on the spot, and, with
a fine professional instinct, had hidden himself up to await
developments. At the psychological moment he emerged and offered his
services. The Greek priest was paid off and departed, the providential
minister (all according to David) robed himself in the mat from the
bottom of a carriage, and entered the river, where the lady joined him
suitably arrayed, and, clinging to the side of the boat, for the
current is swift and the water deep, everything was accomplished
decently and in order.

I confess that to me this incident is full of mystery. First, how
could it happen that a Christian lady of that age should not be
already baptized? Can a person be baptized again whenever the spirit
moves him? Further, is it permissible to an individual, presumably of
the Baptist persuasion, to undergo this solemn rite as an incident in
a tour to Jordan, and at the hands of a Greek priest as this lady had
proposed to do? Lastly, there is the question of the substitute whom I
saw, and--so deficient after much experience remains my judgment of
men--did not recognise as a clergyman of any faith. Doubtless I was
mistaken and he was a minister, possibly of high degree. Still, were I
about to be baptized, I should like to make a few inquiries before I
accepted that solemn office at the hands of a stranger appearing
opportunely out of the reeds of Jordan. It is hardly necessary for me
to add that I do not tell this story with the idea of jesting at the
person concerned, who has a right like the rest of us to carry out her
religious aspirations in such fashion as seems best to her, but rather
as a curious example of enthusiasm triumphant in spite of obstacles.

Brother Felix has much to say about the Jordan, and, amongst other
things, deals with this matter of baptism as it appeared to him over
four hundred years ago. It seems that then a superstition existed, and
for aught I know exists to this day, that those who are baptized in
Jordan "will never thereafter grow old; and this is why they make such
efforts to get to the Jordan and baptize one another." He instances
the case of some ladies of his own party "who bathed among the reeds
above us with modesty, silence, and devotion, and far more sedately
than we. I could have wished," he adds, "in the case of these old
women, that the common report might prove true; for the people say
that whosoever bathes in Jordan does not grow any older, but that the
longer he remains in the water, the younger he grows; for instance, if
he bathes for one hour, he grows younger by one hour; if for two, he
grows younger by two; if three, by three; if for a year, he grows
younger by a year. But our women comrades would have needed a bath of
sixty years to restore their youth; for they were women of eighty
years and upwards."

It is something of a shock to the reader to find that Brother Felix
had any eyes to see how old or young were the ladies in whose company
he travelled, and should even allow himself to express a preference
for the latter state in woman. But Felix was very much of a man after
all, although, as I judge, an exceedingly good one according to his
lights.

He tells also some curious stories about the sudden terror which, it
appears, frequently overtook pilgrims who had swum across Jordan, when
it became necessary for them to return. The task, I may observe, does
not look difficult, and, if I had been acquainted with the pages of
Felix before visiting the place, I should have liked to make trial of
it notwithstanding the current. He mentions one of his companions,
however, a strong swimmer, who was very nearly drowned here, and who
alleged afterwards that when he was come to the middle of Jordan
something beneath the water touched him, and "I was so much frightened
by its touch that I lost all the strength of my limbs, and could not
help myself either with my legs or my arms." Two of the company made a
second attempt, supporting this man between them, whereon at the same
place he began to sink, dragged them down with him, and was with
difficulty rescued. Ultimately a Saracen, mounted on a strong horse,
crossed Jordan at a ford a long way off and brought him back safe
thereby. The pilgrim, we are informed, "gave him much gold for the
price of his life." The adventure wrought a sad change in the poor
man, however, since he who was handsome, "lusty, overbearing, and
quarrelsome, and disliked by many of his fellows," became, after his
return from Jordan, "pale-faced, timorous, humble, and slavish." Felix
adds that he remained sorrowful and cast down, and, as he believed,
died before long. He says also that he himself, when swimming in
Jordan, was smitten with fear, but got back safely, and that a great
friend of his suddenly lost all his strength in the middle of the
river and was barely saved alive.

Afterwards he discusses the cause of this phenomenon, which he
declares was the common experience of all pilgrims, whether it was
brought about by "certain unnatural and hellish beasts who swim up
from the Dead Sea to bring men to their deaths," or by strong
imagination. Finally, he seems to favour a third interpretation--that
it is a punishment from Heaven, "because swimming across is a sign of
wantonness and dissoluteness," and the Jordan is a place "for weeping,
not for laughing; for prayer, not for shouting; for kneeling, not for
struggling; for repentance, not for wantonness."

To this day, so far as my observation goes, such must, properly no
doubt, be the general thought with reference to the Holy Land. As a
result, there the traveller sees little that is bright or joyous. I
hardly remember noting a young and charming face, or even a pretty
dress. Youth flees that land; it shrinks from wandering where are no
daily common pleasures, nothing but solemn sights and painful
memories, which call up meditations oppressive to the spring of life.
Palestine above all other countries seems the place of pilgrimage of
folk on the wrong side of middle age, whose interests and ambitions
have ceased to be solely, or even in the main, occupied with the
anticipation of what good fortunes may befall them during the unspent
days of their earthly sojourning.

Be this as it may, the only sweet and cheerful things in the Holy
Land, where even the native children for the most part appear so
grave, are the lovely flowers which for a time smile upon its face,
soon to be burnt up and vanish. Amid those sterile hills and rotting
ruins these lilies of the field suggest to the mind the presence of a
spirit of promise eternally renewed although fulfilment may be far,
and of a hope that never dies, though it may wither almost to its root
in the searing winds of doubt and the long, undewed season of the
heart's thirst and trial.

Felix mentions another superstition of which it would be interesting
to learn whether any traces remain to this day. Myself I have heard of
none, although now, as of old, pilgrims bring jars to the Jordan and
fill them with its water. It is that ships on board of which such
water was carried were always unlucky. He tells from his own
experience that whenever they were in any danger at sea, the pilots
ran about the vessel searching all the belongings of the pilgrims for
this water, threatening to throw overboard those who carried it with
their baggage. He says, too, that he had endured much through being
thus "insolently" searched, and adds that a papal bull was to be seen
at Rome forbidding the importation of Jordan water "on pain of the
curse of the Pope." This malediction Felix supposes to have been
issued in order to put a stop to superstitions connected with the use
of Jordan water for baptismal purposes. But were mediaeval popes wont
thus to war against such superstitions?

In the immediate neighbourhood of the Dead Sea the mosquitoes were
very troublesome; indeed, it was necessary to smoke with vigour, and
keep a handkerchief moving about the head as a protection against
their venomous attacks. They did not, however, attack us by night in
Jericho, although, I believe, that here also, a little later in the
year, they are a perfect scourge.

The morning that we left the valley of Jordan proved very hot.
Unfortunately, also, the view from the heights above, as on the day of
our arrival, was obscured by dense steaming mists that lay like a
white veil upon the low lands and the opposing border line of
mountains, although the point of the precipitous Quarantana soared
above them. This hill, which I did not climb, is said, upon no ground
that I can discover, to have been the scene of the Temptation, and
because of the sanctity attached to it on this account, was for many
generations inhabited by anchorites like those of Tabor who lived
there in huts and caves.

At a place called the Apostle's Well we left our conveyance and walked
by a steep mountain track to the village of Bethany. This path, I
believe, follows the line of the old road, that which the Saviour must
have travelled when He went down to Jordan to be baptized. Reaching
Bethany we were shown the tomb of Lazarus, which is said to be the
only cave in the place, that, notwithstanding its pretty site
overlooking a little valley, and the fertility of its soil, seems
to-day a very unpopulated village. At the least a great number of the
houses are unroofed and ruined.

Entering by a low rock-cut door, we lit tapers and descended about
twenty worn and broken steps which brought us to a kind of
ante-chamber or chapel. Hence about five more steps, which appear at
some time to have been covered in with a slab, brought us to the tomb
itself. Supposing this to be the true site, whereof there is no proof,
it would have been easy for the Saviour to stand in the ante-chamber,
and after the stone had been moved, to call the words: "Lazarus, come
forth!" down the remaining steps by which it is separated from the
grave. But as to the exact locality none can speak with sureness,
although it cannot have been far away.

We visited also the ruins of the house of Mary and Martha. From the
remnants of carved marbles and the fine quality of the stone used in
its walls, I imagine that this dwelling must have belonged to some one
of wealth and importance. Whether Martha or Mary ever crossed its
threshold is a different matter; probably it was built in an after
generation.

Between Bethany and Jerusalem once more we passed the slaughter-place.
At this hour of the day there were no butchers and no victims, but the
aspect of the spot was horrible. Bloated-looking pariah-dogs slunk
away from it to sleep in the shade, while on the dying olive-trees
about sat scores of full-gorged kites. "Where the carcase is there
shall the eagles be gathered together." As I gazed it was borne in
upon my mind that thus must the courts of the Temple have appeared
upon the morrow of the Roman massacre.

One of the most interesting of the many sights we saw after our return
to Jerusalem was that of the ancient quarries, called of Solomon,
whence he is said to have drawn the stone for the building of the
Temple. I can well believe that this was so, and as the blocks were
prepared in the bowels of the earth thus it came about that no sound
of saw or hammer could be heard above. Probably Herod and others after
his day made use of them also, drawing the hewn stone up into the
Temple area, since, although the present entry to the caves is not far
from the Damascus gate, they are reported to extend to beneath the
Harem enclosure.

Few travellers, or comparatively few, visit that gloomy place. Perhaps
it was on this account, and because he was determined not to miss one
of the rare chances which came his way, that the Turk in charge of the
quarries, hearing that we desired to see them, did not wait for us to
arrive, but appeared at the hotel to fetch us. He was a very
strange-looking person, who gave us the idea of having lived for years
underground, although, of course, the connection between his
appearance and his office may have been accidental. Tall, thin,
bandy-legged, and cadaverous, he was clothed in a rusty European
overcoat and a bright red fez, above which, although it did not rain
and there was little sun, he held up an enormous white umbrella. With
his back bent and his head thrust forward beneath the umbrella,
notwithstanding his limp and crooked legs, our guide threaded the
crowded bazaars at a pace which I found it difficult to equal. But as
the white umbrella always floated ahead, like the famed helmet of
Navarre, there was no fear of losing him; indeed, not having been paid
in advance certainly he would have guarded against any such
catastrophe.

Opening a rickety door in the face of the rocky slope, old
Troglodytes, to whom now added themselves certain myrmidons, produced
long tapers which we lit. Then off he went again down the steep stones
with the activity of a great black beetle, and after him we followed,
till at length the doorway behind us became but a star of light that
soon vanished altogether.

It was a strange and awesome place in which we found ourselves, a
vast, many-branching cavern, filled with darkness and with silence,
whereof the ends and recesses have never been explored. The air clung
thick and heavy, the heat was such as in the tropics precedes a
hurricane; the only sounds came from the occasional dripping of water
condensed upon the ragged roof and the echo of our footsteps, while in
that breathless calm the tapers burnt steadily as stars. All about lay
tumbled heaps of rock loosened centuries ago. Also there were many
half-cut squares and rough-hewn masses, embryo pillars perhaps never
moved from the spot where they had fallen. The extent of these caves,
now so fearfully still, but that must once have resounded with the
voices and hammers of thousands of workmen, seems to be enormous, and
their ramifications are endless. How our friend Troglodytes found his
way about them was to me a marvel; certainly I should have been
hopelessly lost within five minutes. But he scrambled on, waving the
white umbrella, a tiny figure in that dwarfing vastness, and we
scrambled after over thousands of tons of /débris/. Above us as we
went hung threatening blocks of stone that seemed to be suspended from
the roof, for wherever it was possible the ancient workmen detached
them in such fashion that they fell down from above.

At length, having gone as far as was safe and the air could be
breathed with any comfort, we turned, although at the time I was not
aware of the fact, and ten minutes later once more saw the star of
light shining at the door. In fact, I was quite glad to reach it,
being hot and tired, soaked, too, with perspiration induced by the
stifling closeness of the place. Moreover, the candles softened with
the heat, and bent over the hand in a way that made them very
difficult and uncomfortable to hold.

I should like to know all the history of those vaults. What tragedies
may they not have witnessed during the many terrible sieges and sacks
through which Jerusalem has passed! Often fugitives must have refuged
here; often doubtless they perished here. Perhaps they were starved;
perhaps these rugged walls have echoed to the cries of massacre, and
this darkness has been illumined with the red torches of the Romans,
or of Saracens, seeking their helpless prey even in the bowels of the
earth. Perhaps, also--let us hope it--some more fortunate hid here
until the danger was done with, and thence escaped to light and life
again.



                             CHAPTER XXI

                      GORDON'S TOMB AND GOLGOTHA

Another place in Jerusalem, of which, so far as I am aware, the
guide-books take no notice, but that to me was fascinating and
suggestive, is the sepulchre known as Gordon's Tomb, with the garden
whereby it is surrounded. This name has been given to the spot because
that great and single-minded man General Gordon, when he was in
Jerusalem, made it his custom to come here for prayer and meditation.
As for the tomb I do not understand that he ever asserted it to be
that in which the body of our Lord was laid, although he was inclined
to believe this might be so. My information on the point, however, is
of a hearsay order, gathered only from what was told me in Jerusalem.

This, at least, is sure, that if the true Calvary was where many
believe it to have been, among them myself, on the traditional site of
the Place of Stoning, of which I shall speak presently, few
resting-places could have been more convenient for the entombment of
the divine Body. Also the resemblance between this garden with its
grave and those described in the Gospels is remarkable. It may be,
however, that the facts that the place is still a garden, and that the
tomb is much what it must have been when it was hollowed out so many,
many centuries ago, give more weight to this similarity than the
circumstances warrant.

Yet it would not be too much to say that here the scriptural
description seems entirely fulfilled. The tomb is rock-hewn. It
appears never to have been finished, for some of the surfaces have not
been smoothed. It was closed with a stone. When this stone was rolled
away the disciples, Peter and John, by stooping down could have looked
into the sepulchre and seen the linen clothes lie, perhaps upon the
floor of the little ante-chamber. This tomb, too, was a family tomb,
such as Joseph of Arimathea might well have made, with room in it for
three bodies, one at the end as it were, and recessed, and two at
right angles. Very well might these have served as seats, such as
those on which Mary must have seen "two angels in white sitting, the
one at the head and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had
lain."

Who can tell whether or not it is the very spot? But, if the true
Calvary was just without the wall on the borders of the Mahommedan
cemetery, as think Otto Thenius, General Gordon, Colonel Conder,
Doctor Merrill, and many more, that spot cannot have been very far
away. At least, the sight of it is a great support to the imagination.
Such a garden there must have been, and such a tomb, even as we see
them to-day. In such a place, through the darkness before the
daylight, must have shone the countenance that was "like lightning"
and the raiment that was "white as snow," for fear of which "the
keepers did shake and become as dead men." Through just such a garden,
dim and dewy, must the two Marys have crept in terror of the Jews, or
perhaps of the Roman guard, coming to the mouth of the sepulchre as
the first golden rays of morning pierced it with their level shafts.
On such a little terrace as that above, after, in answer to the query
of the Messengers, she had uttered the immortal words echoed since her
day by so many millions of doubting hearts, that she wept, "because
they have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid
Him," the Magdalene might have turned to behold Him whom in the shadow
she supposed to be the gardener. Up such steps she may have hurried at
His summons, to be met by the solemn and mysterious rebuke, "Touch Me
not; for I am not yet ascended to My Father."

Who can say; but standing in that quiet garden with the rock-hewn
sepulchre before me, it was easy to imagine that here and not
elsewhere these dread mysteries were enacted. Also others have
believed it in a past already distant. Over the centre niche, where
would have lain the body of the Lord, some dead hand who lived in the
crusading time, so said the custodian, has drawn a cross in red
pigment, and on either side of it painted the Greek letters Alpha and
Omega. This he would only have done, believing that here was the
veritable tomb of Jesus. Of course, however, this circumstance proves
nothing, and, although that cross is old, it may be later than the
Crusaders.

I noted another curious and suggestive thing about this tomb. In the
rock without, hollowed from its side, the Saracens or others cut
mangers for the feeding of animals, some of which remain to this day.
How strange if the manger which was connected with the place of the
earthly birth of our Lord, should also thus have become connected with
the place of His earthly burial. How strange, also, if here, neglected
in this old garden, unvisited by the mass of pilgrims, undecked by any
pompous shrine or monument, should be the true scene of the
Resurrection, and not yonder beneath the dome on the gorgeous
battleground of the warring sects.

From this garden, perhaps so holy, though probably the truth of that
matter will never be known, we went outside the walls to the
traditional Place of Stoning, which is on a knoll in a Mahommedan
cemetery north of the Damascus gate, and almost above the old cave
that is called the Grotto of Jeremiah. Here it is that St. Stephen is
said to have been stoned, although of late the site of his martyrdom
has been shifted. On the edge of the knoll rises a sheer cliff forty
or fifty feet in depth. I am told, although I have been unable to
trace the genesis of the statement, that it was the habit of the Jews
to throw condemned persons off the brink of this cliff, and then if
any life was left in them to batter it out with stones. Here as it
chanced I myself was stoned, for in my hurry to look over the edge of
the cliff, to me interesting for other reasons, inadvertently I
stepped upon the pillar of an old Mahommedan tomb. Thereon a Moslem
lady, one of a group who were seated in the sun basking and gossiping
among the graves, hurled a lump of rock at me with considerable
accuracy and force, helping it upon its flight with a volley of abuse.
Instantly children appeared who also began to throw stones at the
Christian "dogs"; but as we showed no concern, in time they ceased
from their amusement.

Things in this respect seem to have changed little during five
centuries. Felix Fabri cautions pilgrims to "beware of stepping over
the sepulchres of the Saracens, because they are greatly vexed when
they see this done, and pelt with stones any one who steps over them,
because they believe that our passing over them torments and disturbs
the dead."

The reason why I was so anxious to examine this place is that I
believe it to be the actual site of the Crucifixion, and that here
above the Damascus road, whence the passers-by looked up and mocked at
the dying figure strained upon His cross, once the body of the Saviour
hung through those hours of sun and darkness. What is more likely than
that the Place of Stoning should also be the Place of Crucifixion, and
what spot could be more suitable than this summit of a cliff, where
all might see the sufferers of the death of shame?

It was outside of the city walls, yet near to the city. A man might
bear his own cross there, since it seems no further from the Place of
Judgment than is the Church of the Sepulchre. There is another point,
to my mind one most suggestive. The Crucifixion ground, called
Golgotha in the Hebrew and Calvaria in the Latin, whence comes our own
Calvary, means in either language the Place of the Skull. All the
evangelists give it this name. St. Matthew says, "a place called
Golgotha, that is to say, the place of the skull." St. Mark says, "the
place called Golgotha, which is, being interpreted, the place of the
skull." St. Luke says, "the place which is called Calvary," in the
Revised Version rendered "the place which is called the skull." St.
John says, "a place called the place of the skull, which is called in
the Hebrew Golgotha."

From such various testimony it may fairly be concluded that this
execution-ground had something to do with a skull. It has been
suggested that it was so called because skulls were left there, but
then would it not have been called the Place of Skulls? Also is it not
admitted that it was the Jewish habit to bury the bodies of
malefactors, and not to leave them to rot upon the ground, as is the
common custom of savages? If so, the skulls would not have remained in
sight. Another suggestion is that the shape of the mound may have
resembled that of a skull. But nowhere in the Bible is it stated that
the Crucifixion took place upon a mount, although the idea that this
was so has become general. All that is stated, all which is quite
certain, is that it happened outside the walls of the city. Thus, to
put aside other evidence, it is expressly said in the eleventh verse
of the last chapter of St. Matthew that "some of the watch came /into
the city/, and showed unto the chief priests all the things that were
done."

Now, as it chances, on the cliff at this spot, believed to be the
Place of Stoning, and by many that of the Crucifixion, the face of the
rock, looking towards Jerusalem, has undoubtedly a fantastic, but, to
my fancy, a very real resemblance to a rotting human skull. There is
the low corroded forehead; there are two deep hollows that make the
eyes; there is something which might be the remnant of a nose, and
beneath, near to the ground level, a suggestion of twisted and
decaying lips. I saw the likeness at once, but on the other hand my
nephew who was with me could see nothing. In the same way three people
out of every four catch the resemblance in a photograph of the place
which I brought home, whereas to the fourth on an average it is
invisible. If two thousand years ago the face of that cliff was
approximately as it appears to-day, may not some fanciful-minded Jew
have caught this likeness and designated it on that account "The Place
of the Skull"? If so, in view of its traditions and horrible use, the
name would have been likely to cling to the site from age to age.

But was it the same? Have weather or the hand of man altered the
appearance of the cliff? Who can say? For my part I believe that save
in the case of strata of exceptional softness, a trifle of two
thousand years will not make any great difference in the appearance of
rock, especially in such a climate as that of this part of Palestine,
where no severe frost comes to corrode and split the air-hardened
stone. There remains the question of extra-natural interference. Men
might have hollowed out those eye-holes. It is, however, difficult to
see why they should have done so. The face is steep and not easy to
come at. Enormous quarries exist within a few yards--those which I
have already described--whence they could more easily have obtained
building material. At least no extensive cuttings have been made,
since the road seems to run where presumably it must always have run,
between the cliff and the city wall.

This is the case, put briefly, but as clearly as I can set it out. It
is not for an amateur like myself upon the strength of only two
examinations, although these were careful, to be dogmatic or express
any positive opinion, and I express none on this or other disputed
sites and matters connected with the Holy Land. How can I, who,
lacking an extended experience of these problems, must rely mainly
upon my powers of observation and deduction such as they may be, to
guide me to the truth? I only venture to point out, not knowing
whether or no this has been done in works already published, that, as
I saw it in the year 1900, the surface of this cliff has a quaint and
ghastly resemblance to a human skull. Taken in connection with the
traditions of that place, with its undoubted suitability to the dread
purposes of public death, and with the name by which the true spot was
known, wherever it may have been, I submit that this resemblance is,
to say the least, exceedingly suggestive.

If the inference is not a false one, if indeed the crosses of the
Saviour and the thieves stood upon the summit of that little cliff, it
would be a fact worthy of note that this patch of earth remains now
just as it must have been in the long-dead Roman days. What a strange
and bitter satire also would be involved in the circumstance that
where the Christ gave up His soul is now a burying-place of the
followers of the false prophet, in which the passing Christian of
to-day is cursed and stoned. Here I leave the subject, adding only
that on a subsequent study of this strange cliff from the roof of an
opposing American school or mission within the walls, the skull-like
likeness was, to my mind, even more apparent and striking than it had
been when viewed from nearer points immediately beneath them.

Unless it be that which is to be seen from the platform of the Russian
tower upon the Mount of Olives, I know of no better view of Jerusalem
than can be had by climbing to the roof of the New Hotel, upon some
night when the full moon clothes that ancient Holy City and its
surrounding hills in a garment of shimmering silver. Studying it
thence the traveller will understand how inconceivable it seems that
the site of the present Church of the Sepulchre, by tradition the
place of the Crucifixion, Entombment, and Resurrection, should ever
have lain without the Roman walls. Even now the area enclosed within
those of to-day is not much larger than that engirdled by the
mediaeval fortifications of Famagusta, the provincial town in Cyprus
which I have described in a previous chapter of this book. To cut away
the portion which includes the Church of the Holy Sepulchre would
reduce this small space by about a fourth, or even more. Now, allowing
that the old town extended somewhat towards the south, as the
excavations by Dr. Bliis and others on the foundations of the wall
seem to prove, surely it would be impossible, if shorn of this
section, that it could have contained anything like the numbers of
people who are said to have found shelter within its gates. Whether it
could have held them at all, indeed, whatever the exact line of the
walls, seems more than doubtful. Josephus tells us ("Wars," book vii.
chap. xvii., edition of 1785) that "in the war of which we are
speaking, no less than 97,000 persons were made prisoners, and the
number of those who lost their lives during its progress was
1,100,000."

In explanation of this vast total, he says that when Cestius caused a
rough census of the Jews to be taken at the time of the Passover, it
was reckoned that there were in Jerusalem "two million five hundred
and fifty-six thousand persons, all of them in perfect health," which
is a population nearly as great as that of Paris and its suburbs at
the last census. No wonder he informs us that the multitude shut in by
the siege was so immense "that the confined air occasioned a
pestilence, and this calamity was soon followed by a famine." Yet he
adds: "If the calculation of Cestius may be relied on, the city was
quite large enough to have afforded accommodation to this amazing
concourse of people." Was it? According to Colonel Conder, a great
authority, the number of the inhabitants of Jerusalem in ordinary
times cannot at this period of the siege have been more than 30,000
(it is now about 60,000, and very crowded). To add to this modest
total over 2,000,000 souls, and to assert that such a seething mass of
humanity, pent within those narrow walls, endured a siege of 143 days,
is to strain the credulity of modern investigators to breaking point.
Surely Josephus must have exaggerated. But if we divide his figures by
five, supposing the ground on which is built the Church of the Holy
Sepulchre to have been without the wall in his day (as must have been
the case if the Crucifixion took place there), it seems quite
impossible that even the total thus diminished could have found room
to move and fight, or roofs to shelter them from sun and rain.

This fact appears to me to constitute the best and most complete
argument against the authenticity of the Church of the Sepulchre site,
since all admit that the Crucifixion took place without and not within
the city walls. The experts, however, can furnish other arguments.
Thus, Dr. Merrill, who has studied the matter closely, and, I believe,
himself carried out excavations, very kindly showed me the plan he had
made of the foundations of the ancient walls, according to which the
Holy Sepulchre site would be distinctly included within them. I
gathered from him also that he believes the Crucifixion to have taken
place at the spot which I have described already, and I think that he
has marked it thus upon his plan. In his opinion the Saviour carried
His cross from the Hall of Judgment, not by the narrow and twisting
Via Dolorosa, but along a broad military road that ran to the Damascus
gate and thence to Caesarea.

On the other hand, for some fifteen centuries the Church of the
Sepulchre has been accepted as the true site. Therefore, the vested
interests, if I may call them so, in that site are considerable, and
any attempt to dispute it is vigorously cold-shouldered by Greeks,
Latins, Armenians, and Abyssinians alike. But when this tradition is
examined it will be found a house without foundations. According to
Eusebius, before the time of Constantine a temple of Venus, said to
have been built by Hadrian, stood upon the site of the church. He
appears to have thought also that the cave beneath was connected with
the worship of this goddess. A vision induced the Empress Helena, the
mother of Constantine, to undertake a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. There
another vision prompted her to destroy the temple of Venus and dig,
whereon, "contrary to all expectation," the Tomb of the Lord was found
beneath. Also she discovered the crosses upon which the Saviour and
the good thief were executed, carefully buried away against the hour
of her search. As no further vision came to explain which of these was
the True Cross, this had to be determined by experiment. A lady sick
to death was brought to the place, and when she was laid upon the
genuine relic instantly recovered her health. Such, put concisely,
seems to be the sum of the evidence in favour of the accepted site.
The reader will judge of its value for himself.

If he is critically minded, however, it may occur to him as possible
that when the Empress arrived and asked to be shown the notable places
in Jerusalem, the Pagan inhabitants of that day took her to the ruined
temple of Venus. Then might have come the visions already
characteristic of this good woman, the purport of which would have
been noised abroad. For the rest, is it wonderful that if a wealthy
empress wishes and expects to find crosses by digging at a certain
spot, crosses should, sure enough, be found?

Probably in Jerusalem then, as to-day, there existed enterprising
people who appreciated money, and were not overburdened with scruples
as to the manner of its winning. It is hardly necessary to dwell on
the curious circumstance (supposing that they were not placed there
ready to St. Helena's hand) that these crosses of scantling--for they
could have been little more if one man was to carry them--should have
been thus carefully preserved and have withstood the damp of the earth
for over three centuries. Oddly enough, however, as Colonel Conder
points out in his article on Jerusalem in the "Dictionary of the
Bible" that is edited by Dr. Hastings, "the legend of Helena's
miraculous discovery of the Cross is unnoticed by contemporary
writers, though in A.D. 326 the mother of Constantine visited
Bethlehem and Olivet. The Cross itself is only noticed by St. Cyril
twenty years after the great Basilica was built, and in A.D. 383 by
Jerome. . . . The story of the finding of the Cross is first told by
Rufinus in A.D. 410, and by Theodoret about A.D. 440."

Therefore it would seem possible that the whole of this marvellous
tale may be a legend of a post-Constantine period. In such case
nothing remains to guide us as to the reason of the building of the
Basilica by Constantine at this particular spot. Possibly it was the
discovery of the old rock graves, which since the sixteenth century
have been asserted to have held the remains of Joseph of Arimathea and
Nicodemus. This tomb of Nicodemus, by the way, Colonel Conder
suggests, in the article from which I have already quoted, may have
been hollowed for a very different purpose. "It is not impossible that
this monument may be the real tomb of the kings, but it is also
possible that all were buried near Siloam within the city walls; and
future excavation may reveal 'the sepulchres of David' near Siloam."

Among the seas of uncertainty which surge round the sacred relics of
Jerusalem it is refreshing to stand upon something that is beyond
doubt, even if be clearly connected with the events of Bible history.
We visited the establishment of the Sisters of Zion twice, and on the
second occasion saw everything that the place has to show. The good
nuns are Russians, but, fortunately, the lady who conducted us could
speak French. This church and convent abuts on the /Via Dolorosa/ or
Sorrowful Street, which here is spanned by an arch called that of the
/Ecce Homo/, where, by tradition, Pilate produced the Saviour before
the crowd, saying to them all and to all the generations that were to
follow, "Behold the man." Whether or no the event happened on this
spot none can say, but Baedeker is of opinion that here are the
remains of a Roman triumphal arch that has been remodelled since the
days of the Romans. In the choir of the church of the Sisters of Zion,
however, is a smaller arch, which joined that spanning the street, and
must at any rate be very old.

What admits of no question is the ancient pavement which is to be seen
in the basement of the convent. This must date from the Roman days,
and in all probability was trodden by our Lord. It is laid in large
blocks, and one part of it, which is comparatively unworn, seems to
have formed part of the flooring of a courtyard or square. Upon three
of the slabs are lines and patterns that were evidently made use of in
games played by the soldiers. These struck me as very similar to those
which have recently been uncovered in the Forum of Rome, where I saw
them on my journey to Cyprus. One of the Jerusalem slabs has little
cups cut in it, which may have served some purpose in a game not
unlike that of our modern marbles, still favoured by school children.
Doubtless the guard gambled on this court while they awaited the
result of the trial of prisoners in the judgment hall, thus whiling
away the interval between their hours of duty.

Evidently the court ended and the line of the street began at a
certain limit within the precincts of the convent, since in curious
contrast to the smooth blocks, polished only by the constant passage
of human feet, those immediately beyond can be seen to be much worn by
the hoofs of horses. The sister told me also that beneath the vaults
of the convent, underground passages have been discovered recently
which run towards the temple enclosure, forming, doubtless, part of
the system of the ancient fortifications of the city. These tunnels I
was unable to inspect as they have been closed up, she said, owing to
the bad air and damp that emanate from them.

On leaving this most interesting house of the Sisters of Zion, we
walked through the Jewish quarter of Jerusalem, examining it more
thoroughly than we had found time to do before. The dirt of the place
is truly wonderful, and it is strange that human beings should live
there in health through the scorching months of an Eastern summer.
Still they do live, which speaks well for their innate vitality. The
stamp of the inhabitants is much the same as that of the Jews of
Tiberias, although here they are somewhat more virile in appearance.
Also, their dress is better; in certain instances, indeed, it gave
evidence of wealth and a kind of incongruous taste. Many of these
Hebrews, I am told, like their brethren of Tiberias, live upon the
charity of co-religionists in other lands.

Next to the filth of the streets I think that the beggars are one of
the greatest annoyances to be met with in Jerusalem. At certain spots,
and notably near the Garden of Gethsemane, on the Mount of Olives, and
outside the house of Caiaphas and the Gate of Zion, sit miserable
creatures covered with sores, as Lazarus sat at the door of Dives, who
utter without cease a low, unhappy wail. Now, too, as in the day of
our Lord, lepers roll about the roadway, and exhibit their festering
stumps. I saw none, however, with the skin "as white as snow" of the
Bible, if indeed this form of the disease still exists. Their
affliction seems to be of a kind which I have met with in South
Africa, whereof one symptom is the dropping off of the fingers and
toes at the joints.

Once I had a Kaffir servant who was a leper after this sort, an
excellent man in every other way. But of that unfortunate this is not
the place to write.

Another thorn in the flesh of the traveller, or rather other thorns,
are the tradesfolk of Jerusalem. The moment that he emerges from his
lodging these importunate persons rush at him as pike rush at a frog
thrown into a pond, seeking to drag him into their shops, and there
digest him, or his cash, at leisure. At times the excess of their
servile annoyance makes the temper, even of him who is experienced in
wandering, a thing very difficult to keep. It is rumoured that after a
course of it even blameless and teetotal Deans have been known to
express irritation in terms which would have vexed their Chapters.



                             CHAPTER XXII

                     THE CHURCH OF THE SEPULCHRE

The best time to examine the Church of the Sepulchre, which for ages
past a vast majority of the pilgrims to Jerusalem have considered its
greatest and most impressive sight, is so soon as the doors are open
in the morning, before the swarms of Russians have begun to gather
there. On the day of the visit which I am about to describe,
fortunately for us, beyond a few isolated individuals, none of these
appeared. Probably the rest of them were engaged /en masse/ in
travelling to Jordan or some other distant spot. Thus it came about
that for a long while we were practically alone in the place, to us a
great advantage.

This church, or rather the rotunda which preceded it, was built in the
year 336. In 614--I cull the dates from Baedeker--the Persians
destroyed it. About 620 it was rebuilt with additions. This was the
church which Arculf saw in or about the year 700. He says of it in the
course of a long description:--

 "The church of the Holy Sepulchre is very large and round,
  encompassed with three walls, with a broad space between each, and
  containing three altars of wonderful workmanship in the middle
  wall, at three different points--on the south, on the north, on
  the west. It is supported by twelve stone columns of extraordinary
  magnitude; and it has eight doors or entrances through the three
  opposite walls, four fronting the north-east and four to the
  south-east. In the middle space of the inner circle is a round
  grotto cut in the solid rock, the interior of which is large
  enough to allow nine men to pray standing, and the roof of which
  is about a foot and a half higher than a man of ordinary stature.
  The entrance is from the east side, and the whole of the exterior
  is covered with choice marble to the very top of the roof, which
  is adorned with gold, and supports a large golden cross. Within,
  on the north side, is the tomb of our Lord, hewn out of the same
  rock, seven feet in length, and rising three palms above the
  floor."


More than two centuries later fire twice did the place much damage,
and in the year 1010 it was destroyed by the Moslems, to be
reconstructed in 1075, and afterwards greatly added to by the
Crusaders. In 1187 and 1244 the church was damaged or destroyed by
various unbelievers. In 1310 it was rebuilt. In 1808 it was burnt
down, to be raised up again as we see it now, in 1810. Such is the
stormy and chequered history of this remarkable fane.

Formerly it had double doors facing south, with a considerable open
space in front, but now one of these has been walled up. Passing
through the other, almost the first object to be seen is the Stone of
Anointment, whereon the body of Christ is supposed to have lain. It is
not reassuring to the reverent traveller, especially if he chances
never to have studied the subject for himself, and to believe that
here was the unquestioned scene of our Lord's death and resurrection,
to consult his faithful Baedeker, and to read therein that "the stone
has often been changed." Yet even as he reads he may lift his eyes to
see, as I did, two devout pilgrims, a man and a woman well on in
years, with heaving breasts and tear-stained eyes, kneel down and kiss
the relic with the utmost passion--that relic which "has often been
changed."

Near by is another stone, where it is announced that the women stood
while the anointing of the holy Body was in progress. A few steps, and
we come to the rotunda beneath the great dome, in the centre of which
stands the sepulchre, the reputed burial-place of Christ, containing a
split slab of marble, where His body is said to have lain. Evidently,
therefore, it has changed since the days of Arculf, who told Adamnan
that "This tomb is broad enough to hold one man lying on his back, and
has a raised division in the stone to separate his legs." In the time
of Felix Fabri, however, as now, it was "covered with a slab of
polished white marble, on which mass can be celebrated." He says
also:--


 "This cave has no window, nor is there any light in it save what
  comes from nineteen lamps which burn in it, which lamps hang above
  the Lord's Sepulchre; and inasmuch as the cave is small, the fire
  of the lamps make a smoke and stench, which greatly troubles those
  who enter the place and remain therein."


Baedeker says that in the crusading days the Sepulchre sanctuary was
round, with a round tower, but already separated into the Angels'
Chapel and the actual burying-place as it is to-day. Afterwards it was
polygonal, and in 1555 the nuisance which Felix notices was remedied
by the piercing of holes in the roof to allow the smoke and smell to
escape. To-day it is hexagonal in shape, and the pilgrim passes into
the Sepulchre through the Angels' Chapel with its many lamps which
belong to the different sects.

On one side of the Sepulchre, the north, if I remember right, is a
curious opening in the marble not unlike that out of which the anchor
chain runs in the bow of a steamer. Through this hole at the Feast of
the Greek Easter is exhibited the miracle of the Holy Fire, which is
said by the Greeks--the Latins refusing to participate in the fraud
after the sixteenth century--to descend annually from heaven, for what
exact purpose I have been unable to discover from any authority within
my reach. However, when it has descended--or when the priest has
struck a match inside the Sepulchre--he thrusts a lighted torch
through the hole, from which some privileged person lights his lamp or
candle. From this again others take the fire, fighting and screaming
to be the first, and burning their breasts to show that these flames
are harmless till at last the whole vast space is starred with the
light of thousands of tapers.

The "miracle" is of old standing. Colonel Conder says of it in the
article to which I have referred already: "The strange festival of the
Holy Fire seems to have perpetuated the pagan fire-feasts of earlier
days--perhaps once celebrated at the same spot." However this may be,
when Bernard the Wise, who is, I think, the first to mention it,
visited the Sepulchre in 867 the custom was already established. He
says: "I must not, however, omit to state that on Holy Saturday, which
is the eve of Easter, the office is begun in the morning in this
church, and after it is ended the Kyrie Eleison is chanted, until an
angel comes and lights the lamps which hang over the aforesaid
Sepulchre, of which light the patriarch gives their share to the
bishops and to the rest of the people, that each may illuminate his
own house."

It was because of this "miracle" that the Caliph Hakim is said to have
destroyed the church in 1010. The Jacobite writer, Gregory
Abulfaragius, the author of the "Universal History from the Creation,"
who must have written about 1270, says:--


 "The author of this persecution (that of 1010) was some enemy of
  the Christians, who told Hakim that, when the Christians assembled
  in their temple at Jerusalem to celebrate Easter, the chaplains of
  the church, making use of a pious fraud, greased the chain of iron
  that held the lamp over the tomb with oil of balsam, and that when
  the Arab officer sealed up the door which led to the tomb, they
  applied a match through the roof to the other extremity of the
  chain, and the fire descended immediately to the wick of the lamp
  and lighted it. Then the worshippers burst into tears, and cried
  'Kyrie Eleison,' supposing that it was fire from heaven that fell
  upon the tomb; and they were thus strengthened in their faith."


Really when he learn the truth of the matter, it is not wonderful that
in his turn the Caliph Hakim was strengthened in his indignation
against the Christian religion and the anointed cheats who practised
such a fraud.

In the day of Felix Fabri it appears that the head priest was shut by
the Greeks "into the Lord's monument with an unlighted candle, which
he brings forth lighted with a loud cry, and from which all the lamps
are lighted." But Felix, although credulous at times, was too sensible
a man to be thus imposed upon. He says: "But it is not lighted by a
miracle but artificially; albeit the ignorant mob raises its cries to
heaven, praising God as though a miracle had been wrought, and so they
noise it abroad among the people, even among the Saracens." He goes on
to tell how that the Saracens said that if this fire was really
brought down from heaven and the Christians could prove it, they would
be willing to be converted.

Felix narrates a fable, which he calls a "beautiful story," anent this
fire. It is that when Narcissus, an ancient bishop of Jerusalem, was
about to hold service on Easter eve his acolytes told him that there
was no oil. But, being holy and believing and full of faith, he sent
for water instead. When it came he blessed it, and filled the lamps.
Then suddenly "by a wondrous power unheard of in any other age, the
water took upon itself the fatness of oil, and being lighted from
heaven, made the light of the lamp shine more brightly than it was
wont to do."

This very curious event, which chanced under the Emperor Severus 211
years before the day of Constantine, was, it is suggested, the
beginning of the miracle, which thereafter repeated itself annually.

As may be imagined, this yearly wonder happening in a crowded
church--I believe that 6000 people can press into the space beneath
the dome, although at the time of writing I am unable to find an
authority for the statement--is not unattended with danger. In 1834,
indeed, a fearful catastrophe occurred, of which, fortunately, we have
an account in "Visits to Monasteries in the Levant." The late Hon.
Robert Curzon, jun., the author of this interesting work, was
travelling in the Holy Land, and chanced to be present in the church
upon that dreadful occasion. He tells how "the patriarch was carried
out of the Sepulchre in triumph, on the shoulders of the people he had
deceived," and how, overcome by the smoke and smell, three unhappy
wretches "fell from the upper range of galleries, and were dashed to
pieces on the heads of the people below," an Armenian girl dying in
her place merely of heat and fatigue.

Afterwards Mr. Curzon and his party set out to return to the convent
where they were lodging, the soldiers of their escort making a way for
them. When he reached the station traditionally occupied by the Virgin
during the Crucifixion he saw a number of people lying on the floor of
the church. At first he thought that they were resting, but at length
coming to a great pile of them perceived that these were dead bodies.
Now I must quote, since nothing can give a better idea of this fearful
event than the words of the eye-witness who describes its details.
Many of those whom he took to be peaceful sleepers were he found
"quite black with suffocation, and farther on were others all bloody
and covered with the brains and entrails of those who had been trodden
to pieces by the crowd. At this time there was no crowd in this part
of the church; but a little farther on, round the corner towards the
great door, the people, who were quite panic-struck, continued to
press forward, and every one was doing his utmost to escape. The
guards, outside, frightened at the rush from within, thought that the
Christians wished to attack them, and the confusion soon grew into a
battle. The soldiers with their bayonets killed numbers of fainting
wretches, and the walls were spattered with blood and brains of men
who had been felled, like oxen, with the butt-ends of the soldiers'
muskets. Every one struggled to defend himself or to get away, and in
the mêlée all who fell were immediately trampled to death by the rest.
So desperate and savage did the fight become that even the
panic-struck and frightened pilgrims appear at last to have been more
intent upon the destruction of each other than desirous to save
themselves."

Mr. Curzon then tells of his own fight for life, and of his hideous
struggle with one of the Pasha Ibrahim's colonels, whom in the end he
overthrew. The officer died where he fell, but Mr. Curzon found his
legs again, and succeeded in winning his way back to the sacristy of
the Catholics, and thence to the room adjoining the church, which had
been assigned to him by the monks. He says "the dead were lying in
heaps, even upon the stone of unction; and I saw full 400 wretched
people, dead and living, heaped promiscuously one upon another, in
some places above five feet high."

The site of the church of the Holy Sepulchre has witnessed many
tragedies during the last fifteen centuries, but few of them can have
been more terrible than that of sixty-five years ago, which Mr. Curzon
describes. Yet from Easter to Easter still "the miracle" goes on.

Here I must explain, for the benefit of those readers who may be
unacquainted with the conditions which prevail at Jerusalem, that this
church of the Sepulchre is the joint possession of various Christian
sects, who have held their rites in it for many ages. In or about the
year 1342 the traveller Bertrandon de la Brocquière, lord of
Vieux-Château, writes: "In the church of the Holy Sepulchre reside
also many other sorts of Christians, Jacobites, Armenians,
Abyssinians, from the country of Prester-John, and Christians of the
girdle."

To come to a later age, we have evidence on the point from the pen of
the Rev. Henry Maundrell, who was elected chaplain of their Aleppo
factory by the company of Levant merchants in 1695, and who died while
still a young man at Aleppo in 1701. In the interval he visited
Jerusalem and wrote an interesting and valuable account of what he
saw. Speaking of the church of the Holy Sepulchre he says that "in
these places almost every Christian nation anciently maintained a
small society of monks, each society having its proper quarter
assigned to it by appointment of the Turk, such as the Latins, Greeks,
Syrians, Armenians, Abyssinians, Georgians, Nestorians, Coptites,
Maronites, &c." In his age, however, most of these communities had
been taxed out by the oppressions of the Turks, so that only the
Latins, Greeks, Armenians and Coptites were left. As in our time, each
of these fraternities had its own altars and sanctuaries, where they
possessed the right of celebrating their services to the exclusion of
all others. He continues:--


 "But that which has always been the great prize contended for by
  the several sects is the command and appropriation of the Holy
  Sepulchre, a privilege contested with so much unchristian fury and
  animosity, especially between the Greeks and Latins, that, in
  disputing which party should go into it to celebrate their mass,
  they have sometimes proceeded to blows and wounds even at the very
  door of the sepulchre, mingling their own blood with the
  sacrifices, an evidence of which fury the father guardian showed
  us in a great scar upon his arm, which he told us was the mark of
  a wound given him by a sturdy Greek priest in one of these unholy
  wars. Who can expect ever to see these holy places rescued from
  the hands of infidels? Or, if they should be recovered, what
  deplorable contests might be expected to follow about them,
  seeing, even in their present state of captivity, they are made
  the occasion of such unchristian rage and animosity?"


If the actual conflicts described by Maundrell have ceased, the spirit
of them remains, and well may we echo the questions which conclude his
remarks. The quarrels of the Christian sects are the object of the
continual wonderment and mockery of the Moslem masters of the holy
places, whose business it is to criticise and control them.

I imagine that few visitors who care to take the trouble to think,
even if they have never questioned the authenticity of the site, can
return faith-whole from an inspection of the Holy Sepulchre. The monks
of various persuasions and different periods have made the mistake of
leaving nothing to the imagination. Thus, in addition to about a dozen
chapels dedicated to sundry saints and supposed to be connected with
them in this way and in that, and to the great Greek cathedral, the
Catholicon--in itself a fine building, but to my taste much marred by
its profuse and tawdry ornamentation--there are many other sacred
spots, each of them fixed to a hair's breadth.

Thus we have the Centre of the World accurately, if unscientifically,
determined, and the place of the burial of the skull of Adam, who was
constructed of clay taken from this locality. Then we see the Mount of
Calvary--the reader will remember, by the way, as I have pointed out,
that nowhere in the Bible is it said that Calvary was on a
mount--beneath which Adam was interred, until the Blood, flowing from
the Cross, brought him to life again. Melchisedec, too, was buried
here, and the socket made for the Cross in the rock has been carefully
preserved, and is now lined with silver. Also the pilgrim is
shown--and, if he is a Russian, kisses the place--where stood the
crosses of the two thieves. Next there is an underground chapel called
that of St. Helena, where the Cross was found. Near the altar, too, is
a seat in which the Empress Helena sat while the Cross was unearthed.
Unfortunately for the genuineness of this relic, as the cold-blooded
Baedeker points out, an Armenian patriarch of the seventeenth century,
complained in his day that he had frequently been obliged to renew
this seat because the piety of pilgrims led them to bear it away
piecemeal. He adds, does the sceptic Baedeker, "Some explorers regard
this chapel as part of the ancient city moat."

To this day pilgrims play the same pranks as poor Father Barnabé told
me of on Mount Tabor almost with tears; indeed, if left alone, they
would carry off the whole place. In this chapel of St. Helena, and on
the staircase leading to it, I saw names scribbled upon the walls.
Greatly did such conduct scandalise Brother Fabri, a hater of
self-advertisement, and, above all things, a gentleman. He tells how
vanity led some noblemen to inscribe their names, with the tokens of
their birth and rank, on the walls of the church, and even to paint
their coats of arms and cut their initials with mallets and chisels on
the pillars and marbles, thereby vexing and scandalising all men. He
adds:--


 "I have seen some vainglorious nobles, whose pride had brought them
  to such a pitch of folly, that when they went up into the Chapel
  of Mount Calvary and bowed themselves down upon the holy rock,
  wherein is the secret-hole of the Cross, they would pretend to be
  praying, and within the circle of their arms would secretly
  scratch with exceeding sharp tools their shields, with the
  marks--I cannot say of their noble birth, but rather of their
  silliness, for a perpetual memorial of their folly. But this they
  were forced to do secretly, for had the guardian of the holy rock,
  whose name is George, seen them doing so, he would have dragged
  them away by the hair of their head. The same madness moved some
  to inscribe their names, shields, and armorial bearings with sharp
  irons on the slab which covers the tomb on the most holy sepulchre
  of the Lord."


Felix goes on to describe in delightful language the feelings of the
"devout and simple-minded pilgrim" like himself, when he came across
the traces of all this industry. Apparently it induced him to curse
and to swear, and to express angry hopes that the engraver would come
to total grief, or, at least, lose his hand, and to petition the
Almighty that He would be pleased to see to the matter. One is glad to
learn, though elsewhere I have read otherwise, that German nobles
alone followed this evil fashion, which often caused poor Fabri, their
fellow-countryman, to blush for them, "both among Christians and
Pagans," for as the proverb which he cites says neatly enough, "the
hands of fools befoul the sides of the house." One "fool" in
particular almost drove him mad, for he was as fond of writing his
name as that monarch of whom it is told that, armed with a piece of
chalk, he might be met rushing breathless from room to room of his
palace, while after him struggled attendants whose business it was,
for a sufficient reason, diligently to apply the sponge and blot out
the royal compositions. One is glad to learn that he, the pilgrim, not
the king, came to a bad end, so that his kinsmen and friends "would
have given much gold could they have wiped out his name from the earth
which he had been at such pains to paint up everywhere."

I fear, however, that he has left many descendants, and it has been my
lot to study their signs-manual and works of religion, prose, poetry,
and humour, not only at home, but in every distant land, and in every
famous or sacred place which I have visited throughout the world. With
Felix, I pray that writer's cramp of the most virulent nature may
paralyse their scribbling fingers.

Besides those which I have enumerated, here are many other places to
be seen; for instance, the Chapel of the Forty Martyrs, the Chapel of
St. James, the Chapel of St. Thekla, the Chapel of the Archangel
Michael, the Chapel of St. Mary of Egypt, and the Chapel of Mary
Magdalene. In the church itself, too, are more sites, such as the spot
where the Lord appeared to Mary Magdalene, the Column of Scourging,
the Footprints of Christ, the Prison of Christ, the Chapel of the
Crowning with Thorns, the Chapel of the Raising of the Cross, the
Column of Derision, and the Chapel of St. Longinus.

Longinus by the way is fabled, by the monks of the sixth century and
their successors, to be that Roman who pierced the side of the Saviour
with his spear, and was recovered from the blindness of one eye by the
blood which fell upon it. Afterwards he became a Christian and a
saint. Near to this chapel is another of the Parting of the Raiment,
and so forth.

I do not dwell in detail upon these various spots and their traditions
because, to be plain, I have no faith in them. Even if it be admitted
that the Church of the Holy Sepulchre does cover the place of the
Crucifixion and its attendant events, which I believe to be most
improbable, it is beyond credence that all these localities should be
known with such exactitude. Moreover, many of them have been changed
during the passage of the centuries. Their details, architectural and
other, can be studied in any book of reference. As for the general
effect produced upon a visitor by so much ornamentation, so many
candles, and such a diversity of occurrences, miraculous and
spiritual, said to be concentrated beneath these roofs, it is, I
confess, bewildering. Days must be spent there before all the
component parts become clear to the mind in their proper sequence, and
those days many would prefer to devote to other objects, to them of
greater interest.

What I was very glad to see, however, were the sword, spurs, and the
cross worn by Godfrey de Bouillon, which are shown in the Latin
Sacristy, especially the sword, a plain weapon of the ordinary
Crusader form, wherewith he is said to have halved a giant Saracen as
easily as a juggler severs a silk handkerchief. Godfrey, it will be
remembered, was the hero of the first crusade, and after the capture
of the city, was elected King of Jerusalem! This title he declined,
saying that where the Saviour wore a crown of thorns he would have
none of gold, and in place of it took that of Baron of the Holy
Sepulchre. He died, or was poisoned, in the year 1100, aged only
thirty-eight, and in this church his grave is shown. It is something
of a shock to read in Baedeker, hard to be convinced, that these
relics, which look old and authentic enough, are "antiquities of
doubtful genuineness." But what is there in this church that is not
doubtful?

Not one of the least interesting sights of this ancient place,
hallowed by so much suffering, so many traditions faithfully believed
in for fifteen centuries, and the prayers of tens of thousands of good
and earnest Christians, is, from some retired nook beneath the
rotunda, to watch the behaviour of the various visitors. There is the
superior person who knows all about it, and says so in a loud voice,
waving his guide-books at sundry architectural details which he
explains for the benefit of the unlearned, sometimes by a trifling
confusion tacking the wrong description on to the object under view.
Yonder stands the glib dragoman, rattling off his tale with the
unconvincing facility of a parrot. Next come Russian pilgrims, pious
happy folk who know no doubt, whose faith is built upon a rock. If you
were to suggest to these that this was not the real spot of the
Crucifixion and the rising of the Saviour, probably they would look
upon you as an emissary of the antichrist, or at the least, an
infidel. With sighs and tears and beating of the breast such as those
of the publican in the parable, they go by, genuflecting, kissing,
prostrating themselves, while the learned person of whom they take no
notice, points them out and discourses upon them as though they were
wild animals.

Then appear another party--three ladies, two gentlemen, and a youth of
about twelve, transatlantic in origin and beautifully dressed, all of
them. Their hands in their pockets, they stroll down the church of the
Crusaders chattering loudly--but every one chatters here, it is the
pleasing habit of the place. What does surprise and make the observer
in his corner wonder if he sees aright is the fact that the two
gentlemen of the party wear their hats, the head of the youth being
adorned with a brilliant fez. The middle-aged inhabitant of these
islands who, do what he will, cannot altogether keep himself up to
date, rubs his eyes, remembering that ever so many years ago he was
taught to take off his hat, even in a tramp's lodging-house, if Mr.
and Mrs. Tramp were at home, and that the same rule might /à fortiori/
be supposed to hold in what is, after all, the oldest, and, by many,
the most venerated fane dedicated to the Almighty in all Christendom.
Even if these visitors to that place had no belief or reverence for
its Master, it might still be supposed to hold.

Ultimately this particular party, still covered, advanced to the door
of the Chapel of the Angels and the Holy Sepulchre. David, our
dragoman, a man of mild and inoffensive manners, sprang from his seat,
muttering something. It appears that as a native Christian of
Jerusalem he has certain rights in the Holy Sepulchre.

"What are you going to do?" I asked.

"Knock their hats off," he answered; and, pushing through the little
crowd of Russians, David placed himself at the low door of the Chapel
of the Angels, quite prepared for action.

Whether it was that the gentlemen saw something threatening in his
eye, or, as was also suggested, that the entrance being so low it
proved more convenient to pass it uncovered, I know not. At least,
they removed their hats, so David was not obliged to resort to a
violence which I am sure is foreign to his nature. Anyhow, his
determination to use it if necessary, sent him up, under all the
circumstances, at least fifty per cent. in my estimation.

The Holy Sepulchre, apparently, did not interest them much, and the
pilgrims emerged almost as quickly as they went in, replacing their
headgear as they came. Then a really good idea struck them. The
ladies, one gentleman, and the hopeful in the fez, arranged themselves
in an artistic group over against the sacred building, with the wall
of the dome for a background; while the other gentleman, with much
preparation, unslung his kodak, focussed and photographed them. Oh!
that Felix Fabri had been there to see, and could have bequeathed us
his impressions of that inimitable scene. As for myself, feeling my
temper getting the better of me, and not wishing to be involved in an
unseemly dispute, I left the church.



                            CHAPTER XXIII

           THE MOUNT OF OLIVES AND THE WAILING OF THE JEWS

We visited many other places in Jerusalem, but few of these impressed
themselves much upon me, principally because I could not bring myself
to believe that there was even a probability that they had to do with
the events which are reported to have happened in them. Thus, there is
a fine Armenian church, which as a church is worth looking at, where
St. James is said to have been beheaded. He may have been, but I can
discover no sufficient evidence of the fact. All that the Bible, a
much-neglected book of reference, says about it is that when Herod the
king stretched forth his hand to vex certain of the Church "he killed
James the brother of John with the sword." Well, it may have happened
here. In this church there are old porcelain picture-tiles, which are
really very curious.

Then there is the house of Caiaphas, now an Armenian monastery, where
we saw an altar, said to be made of the stone which closed the
entrance to the sepulchre of Christ. This same stone is also to be
seen in the Chapel of the Angels in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre,
a difficulty which Fabri gets over by stating that the faithful cut it
into two. By the way, in his time, pilgrims stole fragments of that
stone almost more greedily than anything else. A companion of Fabri's
bribed one of the Armenian guardians with two ducats to break a piece
from it, which the pair of them did by stealth in the darkness. This
knight died at sea--surely the Armenian guardian should also have
died, but perhaps he did--and Felix, evidently much to his delight,
inherited the fragment, which he took home with him to Ulm. In this
monastery also we were shown a little cell where the Saviour is said
to have been imprisoned before his trial, also the place where Peter
denied his Master, and the tombs of many Armenian patriarchs. The last
are undoubtedly genuine; for the other sites there seems to be no real
authority, although, much as they are to-day, they were all of them
shown to pilgrims in the time of Fabri. In a few brief lines Baedeker
disposes of their claims.

Another noted building is the Coenaculum or the Chamber of the Last
Supper, now a mosque, but evidently from the style of the architecture
formerly used by Christians of the Crusader period, probably as a
church. We know that every building in Jerusalem has been destroyed
once, if not more often, since the time of our Lord, and this fact is
fatal to any illusion connected with an upper chamber standing in the
year 1900, and exhibiting even a stone upon which the Saviour is
reported to have sat at the last Supper. The place, however, has many
traditions. For instance, the Virgin is said to have died there: also
it is the reputed scene of the descent of the Holy Ghost upon the
Apostles. Lastly, in an adjoining room is a coffer covered with
embroidered cloth, alleged to be a copy of the sarcophagus of David,
who, as the Moslems declare, is buried in the vaults beneath. All
authorities report that it is comparatively modern, nor was I
sufficiently interested to attempt to see it, to do which its Moslem
guardians must be rather heavily "insulted" by the travelling
Christian.

All we know is that somewhere in the City of David, David was buried;
somewhere stood that upper chamber where were uttered the immortal and
immortalising words recorded by St. John; somewhere rose the palace of
Caiaphas where Jesus Christ was mocked, scourged, and crowned with
those thorns that symbolise the lot of all humanity. Whether it was
here or 100 yards or 500 yards distant, what does it matter? It
matters nothing at all.

A more interesting expedition to my mind is to hire horses and ride to
the Mount of Olives by way of the Valley of Hinnom. This is a
desolate, waterless place, associated with many an ancient, evil
memory, whereof it was prophesied "that this place shall no more be
called Tophet, nor the Valley of the son of Hinnom, but the Valley of
slaughter." Here is that Tophet "which is the Valley of the children
of Hinnom," which Josiah destroyed when "he brake in pieces the
images, and cut down the groves, and filled their places with the
bones of men . . . that no man might make his son or his daughter to
pass through the fire to Molech."

From this valley Hinnom we get the name Gehenna, a synonym of hell,
and near to it is the Aceldama, or House of the Field of Blood, where
for generations pilgrims have been buried. Hence it is easy to see
how, as Dr. Bliss informed me he had proved by his excavations, the
ancient Jerusalem must have stretched much further in this direction
than does the modern town. The natural lie of the land, and the
defences provided by the position and fall of the valley, make it
almost imperative that this area should have been included in the
walls. Following round it we came to the Pool of Siloam, now an
evil-smelling mud-hole, from which, holding a handkerchief to my face,
I was glad to escape as fast as my horse could carry me.

After riding for some distance along the Valley of Jehoshaphat, we
began the ascent of the Mount of Olives, and, following a steep and
narrow path, came to the Russian church and hospice which stand upon
the summit. Buildings belonging to the Russians are numerous in the
Holy Land. When looking at them it has more than once occurred to me
that in the case of new troubles in that region, their stout walls and
towers would form very serviceable coigns of vantage to a power which
for religious, if for no other reasons, would not be averse to
establishing itself on the coasts of Palestine. Indeed, although I
have little to go on beyond the results of my own observations, I
believe that the erection of so many hospices and kindred
establishments has a steady political purpose quite distinct from any
present pious and charitable use of these edifices. Those who live may
see its development before they are older by twenty years.

Close to the church stands a belvidere tower, which must be quite a
hundred and fifty feet high, and is built in six storeys. To its top
where, if I remember right, bells are hung, those whose heads are
strong enough may climb by a circular winding stair of iron, protected
with a singularly low and inefficient handrail, over which it would be
easy to pitch in a fit of vertigo. I contented myself with stopping at
one of the lower platforms, whence the view was magnificent.

Below were stretched the valley of Jehoshaphat, Mount Moriah crowned
with its mosques, and the Hill of Zion; every detail, indeed, of
walled Jerusalem, with the rugged mountains and valleys that lie about
her. Still more wonderful is the prospect to the east, for there, four
thousand feet below gleam the misty waters of the Dead Sea, encircled
with stony hills, and separated from Jerusalem by leagues of the most
desolate country to be found in all the earth. There, too, a green
streak, drawn as it were across a drab-coloured piece of paper, runs
the river Jordan, and beyond it rise dim mysterious mountains, where
Moses once stood to gaze upon the Promised Land. Altogether the scene
was worth the climb up that uncomfortable and insufficient stair. From
the top, whence poor David returned exceeding dizzy, it must be even
more impressive.

Leaving the Russian buildings we rode to the Chapel of the Ascension.
Since the seventeenth century this has been in the possession of the
Mahommedans, although the various sects of Christians have prayer
recesses within its walls, and on great occasions are permitted to
hold services according to their respective rites. A Moslem custodian
showed us the place, pointing out the footprint of Christ, said to
have been impressed upon the rock as He rose heavenward, which, says
Baedeker, "must have been frequently renewed." By the footprint is a
small round hole, and as our guide seemed thoroughly conversant with
all the circumstances surrounding the Ascension, I asked him what it
was and how it came there. Not in the least abashed he replied that
when the "Hadji" went up to heaven He had His walking-stick in His
hand, with which He struck the rock as He sprang from it, leaving the
mark we see to-day. I thanked him very much for this interesting
information, and we parted with mutual regret.

In this connection the reader may remember that the site shown from
the earliest days on the Mount of Olives does not tally with what we
are told in Scripture. St. Luke says: "And he led them out as far as
to Bethany; and he lifted up his hands and blessed them. And it came
to pass, while he blessed them, he was parted from them, and carried
up into heaven." Now Bethany lies some way beyond the Mount of Olives,
at a greater distance from Jerusalem, whither it is especially stated
the disciples returned "with great joy."

From the Chapel of the Ascension we went to the Church of the Lord's
Prayer, that it is said, the Saviour repeated to the Apostles on this
spot. The buildings consist of a chapel and a quadrangle, enclosing an
open space and surrounded by covered cloisters, on the walls of which
are marble slabs with the Lord's Prayer engraved upon them in over
thirty different languages. This graceful and original building was
set here in 1868 at the expense of a certain Princess Latour
d'Auvergne, who has now been some few years dead. Long before her day,
however, indeed before that of Saewulf, who lived about 1100, a church
stood here, which he describes by tradition as having been very
beautiful, until it was entirely destroyed by the Pagans. In the
centre of the south cloister is a life-sized marble of great artistic
merit, representing the Princess herself as she imagined that she
would be after death. Her body, however, does not lie beneath. Near by
to this monument is an urn containing the heart of her father and a
slab with a long passage concerning him, transcribed from some
historian.

Leaving the cloisters, we were guided by the sister in charge, one of
the little community of nuns who live here, to the chapel, which was
built also by the Princess Latour. Observing wide and dangerous cracks
in the walls, I asked why they were not mended, whereupon, almost with
tears, the good sister told me a sad story. It seems that the
Princess, who was a woman of large wealth, after she had built the
church and court, contributed from year to year sufficient for their
upkeep and for the necessities of the nuns. Further, she announced her
intention of endowing the establishment. But death came upon her very
suddenly, before she had time even to make a will, and those who
inherited her possessions seem to have recognised no responsibilities
in connection with what they may have considered a freak of the
departed.

The result is that the few sisters who remain in the convent are quite
penniless, and live on charity and what they can earn by the making of
butter to sell in Jerusalem. So deep is their poverty, indeed, that
they are truly grateful for any trifle which the pilgrim chooses to
bestow upon them. Worse still, if anything can be worse, the Princess
was cheated by her builders, and the walls of the church are cracking
very badly, owing to the insufficiency of their foundations, so that
unless funds are forthcoming to carry out extensive and necessary
repairs, the whole place must ere long fall into ruins. If by chance
these lines should come under the eye of any co-religionist of these
good sisters who has the wealth and the will to help them in a
distress which is none of their own making, I can assure him or her
that the work will be as good as it is needful.

This story is a poignant example of the common folly of
procrastination where the welfare of others is at stake. The poor
Princess should have studied her Montaigne, and learned wisdom from
him. "Whatsoever I have to doe before death, all leasure to end the
same seemeth short unto me, yea, were it but of one hour. Somebody not
long since, turning over my writing-table, found by chance a memorial
of something I would have done after my death. I told him (as, indeed,
was true) that, being but a mile from my house, and in perfect health
and lustie, I had made haste to write it, because I could not assure
myself I should ever come home in safety. . . . A man should ever, as
much as in him lieth, be ready booted to take his journey, and, above
all things, looke he hath then nothing to doe but with himselfe."

Truly words of sense, which all of us would do well to learn by heart.

Descending the Mount of Olives, we went for a ride round a great part
of the walls of Jerusalem, so far as the Damascus gate and back again
to the neighbourhood of that of Jaffa. Here we dismissed our horses,
and, as it chanced to be Friday, walked through a new set of even
filthier lanes than any with which I had made acquaintance, to the
Place of Wailing of the Jews. It is a strait place in front of a
fragment of the ancient wall, which measures between fifty and sixty
feet in height. The lower courses of this wall are here built up of
vast stones, laid (with what unheard-of labour no man will ever know),
as I suppose, in the time of Solomon.

Facing the wall about a score of Jews, men and women of all ages, were
engaged in "wailing." The women really wept with intervals for repose,
but the men, as strange a collection of human beings as ever I saw,
did not give way to their feelings to that extent. They rubbed their
faces against the huge blocks, which occasionally they kissed, or read
from the Scriptures, or muttered prayers. One tall, pale man attracted
my particular attention. He was clad in what looked like a dirty
night-garment, surmounted by a very greasy fur cap. Thrusting his nose
literally into a crack in the wall, he rocked his body backwards and
forwards, pecking at the cavity like a nut-hatch at the bark of a
tree, while he repeated prayers with the utmost fervour. When we
arrived he was thus employed, nor had he ceased from his devotions as
we departed. Even when a visitor walked up, held a camera to his head
as though it were a pistol, touched the button and returned, remarking
"Got him!" he showed neither surprise nor anger.

This scene is often described as touching. Personally I found it
grotesque, even to sadness. In looking at these Jews, many of whom, I
am told, live upon charity, there arose in my practical Western mind
the words of the old saying: "God helps those who help themselves." If
it pleases them to say their prayers in public, although, as I think,
the practice must be comparatively recent, for I do not remember any
allusion to it in the writings of the earlier pilgrims, by all means
let them do so. But surely they might add to them other more practical
attempts to recover the heritage of their race. For instance, they
might persuade their wealthier brethren to buy out the Turk. There are
a dozen gentlemen on the London Stock Exchange who could do this
without much individual inconvenience. Why do not the Hebrew family
put to this purpose a portion of the riches which certain of them
possess in such abundance? Surely it is only a question of price, and
in such a cause mere money should not count. Are they held back by
indifference and apathy--or, perchance, by the mysterious chain of
some divine decree? Or they might drill, buy arms, and make an
insurrection. I am informed, however, that they prefer to await the
advent of their Messiah, a man of blood and power, a Jewish Napoleon,
who when he appears will bring about the glory and temporal
advancement of the race.

To return: if this ceremony of wailing is imperative, why is it not
celebrated at night? It is inconceivable to me that people so earnest
as these poor Jews doubtless are can carry on their devotions with a
mind undisturbed by such surroundings as I saw. All about the
principal actors, and mixed up with them, was a motley crowd--beggars,
halt, maimed, and disease-stricken; boys, who drew down their eyelids
within six inches of your face to reveal the shrivelled balls beneath;
men with tins the size of a half-gallon pot, which they shook before
you, howling and vociferating for /baksheesh/, and /hoc genus omne/.
Then, to complete the picture, in the background a small crowd of
European and American sightseers, with their dragomen, some seated on
boxes or rough benches, others standing in groups, laughing, smoking,
and photographing the more noteworthy characters. Imagine men who will
submit to it all! Imagine, also, what those fierce old heroes who held
that wall for so long against the might of Rome would think and say of
these descendants if they could see them thus mocked and humiliated at
its foot! To one who, like the writer, in many ways admires and
respects the Jew, who, moreover, has the deepest sympathy with him in
the cruel sufferings and obloquy which for ages have been and are
still heaped upon his ancient, chosen race, such a sight is nothing
short of painful. For my part, were I born to this heritage I had
rather make my petition in some rat-haunted cellar such as must be
open even to the poorest.

Yet their final chants, which I did not wait to hear, for the sights,
sounds, and smells of the place were too much for me, must be rather
fine. Here is the translation of one of them according to Baedeker:--


  Leader. For the palace that lies desolate,
  Response. We sit in solitude and mourn.
  L. For the palace that is destroyed,
  R. We sit in solitude, &c.
  L. For the walls that are overthrown,
  R. We sit, etc.
  L. For our Majesty that is departed,
  R. We sit, etc.
  L. For our great men who lie dead,
  R. We sit, etc.
  L. For the precious stones that are burned,
  R. We sit, etc.
  L. For the priests who have stumbled,
  R. We sit, etc.
  L. For our kings who have despised Him,
  R. We sit in solitude and mourn.


This wailing of the Jews is the last sight that I saw at Jerusalem,
since at a desperately early hour on the following morning we bid
farewell to the City of David, also very regretfully to David the
dragoman, with whom we had a tender parting at the station. I can
recommend him most confidently to any traveller in the Holy Land, who,
I am sure, would find in him an intelligent and, what is more, a
strictly honest guide.

It is not probable that I shall look upon Jerusalem again, but I am
glad exceedingly to have visited this ancient and most sacred town.
"Were you not disappointed with the Holy Land?" is a question which
the returning traveller is often called upon to answer. For my part I
was not in the least disappointed; indeed its living and perpetual
interest came home to me more closely than I had dared to hope.

I know that many travellers are wont to give a different answer, but I
submit respectfully that this is because they do not dig deep enough
with the trowel of the imagination. They suffer their minds, also, to
be disturbed by the crop of petty annoyances and disillusionments
which dog the feet of the pilgrim. The beggars, the extortions, the
playful ways of the Turkish authorities, the difficulties of Eastern
travel, all these distract and worry them, till at last they begin to
lose grip of the root of the matter, which sends its fibres through
every verse of the Old and New Testaments and bears fruit in the
scheme of our Christian faith. Also in many instances the country and
its associations depress them. A daily consideration of sites and
scenes connected with the mighty career of Jesus Christ, and with His
divine and fathomless sorrows upon earth, in itself tends to overwhelm
the spirit, if the spirit is of that order which strives to
understand, to appreciate, or to reconstruct. Many abandon the task,
others have not the qualities necessary to its attempt. Still for
those who can overcome these obstacles, who, above all, can sweep away
doubt's strangling web; who can lift the curtain of the generations
and see afar the lamp of eternal truth burning, however dimly, a
sojourn in the Holy Land is one of the highest and most excellent of
educations.

I repeat, therefore, I am thankful that it should have fallen within
the strangely varied experiences of my life. No man, as I suppose, can
say that he understands the whole mystery of our religion. The veiled
face of Truth, the secret meaning of things spiritual, are hidden from
his purblind eyes. Stare and study how he will, at the best still he
sees as in a glass darkly. Yet such study, if entered upon with a
reverent and searching heart, does serve to kindle there an inner
light and thus to illumine this glass, so that for him the shadows
which move across it thenceforth acquire a somewhat sharper outline.
At times even he becomes able, or thinks that he is able, to interpret
more clearly the meaning of those fateful messages that are written
there which in the future, as in the past, must constitute one of the
most earnest and important studies of mankind. The land we leave
behind us, but, if we have travelled it aright, its immortal lessons
will endure.



When, after six hours' crawl through stormy weather, the traveller
from Jerusalem finally arrives at the Jaffa terminus, his first eager
question is, "What of the sea, O Cook; what of the sea?" Months before
I had put the same question to the station-master at Charing Cross,
and here in this far place the answer was much the same. "Moderate"
was the dispiriting reply, and now, as then, I knew that trouble was
ahead of us.

Nor was I mistaken. There, a mile or more from land, rolled the
Russian steamer that was to convoy us to Port Said; and there, too,
lay none other than the familiar /Flora/ which bore us from Egypt to
the shores of Cyprus. Thinking to earn a little extra profit, the
agents of the Austrian Lloyd had collected a party of Cyprian
pilgrims, purposing to dump them ashore at Jaffa, and proceed to
Alexandria in time to ship the outward mails. But Jaffa is not a port
to be treated in so cavalier a fashion, and thus it happened, as it
has happened ten thousand times before, that the sea got up, and the
pilgrims could not get off.

The /Flora/, anxious to proceed upon her voyage, and always conscious
of awaiting mails, kept up an incessant bellow with her siren. But no
one took the slightest notice of these passionate appeals; not a boat
dared to attempt the eye of stormy water which foamed through the iron
reef. Either the /Flora/ must wait till the sea fell, or take her
pilgrims on a gratis trip to Port Said, whence they would claim to be
returned at the Company's expense. In the end, after steaming about
disconsolately till nightfall, putting to sea and returning again just
to fill in the time, she chose the latter alternative and departed
with a swan's song of farewell hoots, that probably echoed with some
accuracy the state of the temper of all on board. One consolation we
had, however; our ship could not depart, since she carried five
hundred Russian pilgrims whom she was bound to land, even if she
rolled her topmasts out off Jaffa for a week on end.

The few sights that I have described in a previous chapter once seen,
Jaffa, from a traveller's point of view, becomes a hopeless place.
Recognising this, we proceeded to spend the day in doing nothing as
comfortably as possible by walking out of the din and smells of the
town to the lonely beach above. Here we sat down upon a bed of lovely
cockle-shells tinted to every possible shade of pink and brown, and
contemplated the roaring sea. In front of us, jutting through the foam
and vanishing from time to time beneath the rushing combers, lay the
massive boilers and other works torn from the hold of some wrecked
steamer. The sight was suggestive enough, but perhaps there is no
shore in the world where the sea has taken a greater toll of lives.
What scenes of terror has this beach witnessed! Here is one of them.
Josephus, who says of the harbour "that a more dangerous situation to
shipping cannot be imagined," relates it of the drowning of certain
Jews not long before the fall of Jerusalem.


 "At break of day the wind called by the people of the country the
  black north wind arose, and caused the most terrible tempest that
  had been known. The vessels of those who had escaped from Joppa,
  by being thrown against the rocks or dashed against each other,
  were broken to pieces. Some, who by dint of rowing endeavoured to
  escape being foundered by keeping the open sea, were tossed upon
  the mountainous billows, and then precipitated into the profound
  abyss of waters, and a great number of the vessels sunk. During
  this violent contention of the elements, the noise occasioned by
  the dashing of the vessels, and the lamentations and outcries of
  the miserable sufferers, were terrifying beyond description. Many
  of the people were washed overboard by the waves, and either
  drowned or dashed to pieces against the rocks; others fell upon
  their swords; and numbers otherwise perished on board the wrecks.
  The water was coloured with the blood of the deceased whose
  carcases were dispersed upon the coast. During this shocking scene
  the Roman soldiers waited to destroy those who should be driven on
  shore alive. It is computed that the number of bodies driven on
  shore was 4200."


Truly the mercies of ancient war were tender.

The Anglo-Saxon merchant Saewulf in the year 1102 here witnessed
another disaster almost as awful. When they were eight days out from
Cyprus--now it is a night's run--his vessel made Joppa, whereat he was
filled "with an unexpected and extraordinary joy." On arrival at the
port some one said to him, as he believed by "divine inspiration,"
what some one commonly says to the traveller who would disembark at
Jaffa, "Sir, go on shore to-day lest a storm come on in the night,
which will render it impossible to land to-morrow."

Thereupon Saewulf, sensible man, was suddenly seized with a great
desire of landing, and, in fact, did land without difficulty, and went
to bed. Next morning on coming out of church he found great confusion
raging in the place, and was carried along with the crowd to the
shore--


 "When we saw the waves swelling higher than mountains, and
  innumerable bodies of drowned persons of both sexes scattered over
  the beach, while the fragments of ships were floating on every
  side. Nothing was to be heard but the roaring of the sea and the
  dashing together of the ships, which drowned entirely the shouts
  and the clamour of the people. Our own ship, which was a very
  large and strong one, and many others laden with corn and
  merchandise, as well as with pilgrims coming and returning, still
  held by their anchors, but how they were tossed by the waves! how
  their crews were filled with terror! how they cast overboard their
  merchandise! what eye of those who were looking on could be so
  hard and stony as to refrain from tears? We had not looked at them
  long before the ships were driven from their anchors by the
  violence of the waves, which threw them now up aloft, and now
  down, until they were run aground or upon the rocks, and there
  they were beaten backwards and forwards until they were crushed to
  pieces. For the violence of the wind would not allow them to put
  out to sea, and the character of the coast would not allow them to
  put in to shore with safety. Of the sailors and pilgrims who had
  lost all hope of escape, some remained on the ships, others laid
  hold of the masts or beams of wood; many remained in a state of
  stupor, and were drowned in that condition, without any attempts
  to save themselves; some (although it may appear incredible) had
  in my sight their heads knocked off by the very timbers of the
  ships to which they had attached themselves for safety; others
  were carried out to sea on the beams, instead of being brought to
  land; even those who knew how to swim had not the strength to
  struggle with the waves, and very few thus trusting to their own
  strength reached the shore alive. Thus, out of thirty very large
  ships, of which some were what are commonly called dromunds, some
  gulafres, and others cats, all laden with palmers and merchandise,
  scarcely seven remained safe when we left the shore. Of persons of
  both sexes there perished more than a thousand that day. Indeed,
  no eye ever beheld a greater misfortune in the space of a single
  day, from all of which God snatched us by His grace, to Whom be
  honour and glory for ever. Amen."


Such are two of the sea tragedies recorded of that cruel reef of rocks
and the shell-strewn shore on which we sat. Doubtless it has seen
others almost as bad; indeed I have, I think, read of some in various
writings, and many must have met with no historian. But although the
words of Josephus, that a "more dangerous situation to shipping cannot
be imagined," are nearly as true to-day as they were when he wrote
them, the Turk does nothing to improve the port. It has struck me that
he may have a reason for this beyond those which are customary
throughout the Ottoman dominions. He may not wish that it should be
made too convenient for the landing either of tourists--or of troops.

Next morning, to my intense relief, broke calm and fine, with a
rapidly falling sea. Had it been otherwise we must have abandoned all
hope of catching the P. and O. steamer /Caledonian/, by which our
passages were booked at Port Said. Now this risk seemed done with. As
we were not to go aboard till the afternoon I attended the Sunday
morning service, which in Jaffa is held in the room of the Mission to
Jews. The congregation was not large, still two or three were gathered
together. Afterwards came the last, and not the best, of our many
meals in the hostelries of Palestine, washed down with a stirrup cup
of the sweet wine of the country, whereof by now I was heartily tired.
Then, having carefully collected the tortoise Capernaum from the
garden where he strayed and restored him to his basket, we marched
off, and, reaching the landing-stage, were, without mishap, taken
aboard the Russian ship by Cook's boatmen. These are as fine a set of
black-skinned sailermen as ever I had to do with in any clime.
Doubtless at this dangerous port they are picked with especial care.
At any rate their stalwart appearance, skill with oars and tiller, and
the wild, inspiring song with which they drive the large boat through
the gap in the reef and over the wide-arched billows, suggested
confidence even to the fearful, and, for once, made parting with
/baksheesh/ a pleasure.

About two o'clock we got aboard the clean-looking vessel, which was
engined by an English firm, and did not smell half so badly of
pilgrims as I was warned that she would. As she was not to sail till
five, however, I amused myself by sitting on the poop and watching the
humours of the deck. They were various. First of all, a bag of beans,
which was being shipped, burst, and on those Russian sailors was
imposed the Psyche-like task of collecting each wandering seed. Then I
became aware of a great commotion near the funnel, and was informed by
my stalwart friend, the captain of Cook's boatmen, who still lingered
on board, that it was caused by Jews wailing, a public ceremony, I had
imagined, which they reserved for the wall of Jerusalem. I went to
inspect, and found a family of Persian Hebrews in a very parlous
state.

They were all squatted on the deck, the woman alternately weeping
loudly and blowing her nose with her fingers, the husband sitting by
wrapped in depression, a son of about ten now uttering loud and
sympathetic yells and now playing with little bits of wood at some
game upon the deck, and other offspring, all more or less excited and
vociferous. This was their hard case. Actuated by religious impulse
they had travelled from Persia, or elsewhere, with a view of being, in
due course, buried at Jerusalem--and now the port officials declined
to allow them even to disembark. There is a Turkish law that no Jew
may set foot in the Holy Land, although, in fact, Jews there are as
plentiful as blackberries upon an autumn hedge. The explanation of
this discrepancy between rule and fact is, of course, /baksheesh/. For
about five pounds a head, judiciously distributed, any number of Jews
may proceed unmolested to Jerusalem and spend the rest of their days
there. These particular unfortunates, however, had neglected to
provide themselves with the necessary cash, and as the case was beyond
the reach of promiscuous and private charity, nothing remained for
them except to return to Persia, or some other distance place of
origin. And return they did, at any rate to Port Said, where, on the
following morning, I saw them being bundled off the ship with little
ceremony.

Another more amusing sight, for the Jew comedy had its tragic side,
was afforded by a Mussulman who, at a certain hour, was moved to make
his devotions. Accordingly, having selected a nice clean spot upon the
deck, and made sure that it faced towards Mecca, he went off and
fetched his prayer carpet. Meanwhile, gradually the ship swung round
with the tide or current. Back came the Faithful, spread his carpet
and began the accustomed prayers and prostrations. In the midst of one
of the latter his eye caught the ball of the westering sun. I do not
know what happens to the Moslem who prays with his face in the wrong
direction, some such results, perhaps, as in the Middle Ages were
fabled to follow the repetition of the Lord's Prayer backwards by
witches and warlocks. At any rate I cannot often remember seeing a
follower of the prophet so visibly upset. With a bound he snatched up
his carpet and, rushing to the other side of the ship, spread it and
began again in the greatest of hurries.

Now a furious quarrel which had sprung up between the boatmen who lie
about the steamer's sides forces our attention. Two of them rave at
each other; they gesticulate, they lift oars and boathooks, and
threaten sudden death. Anticipating murder, I inquire the reason of
the feud, and am informed that it is about three half-pence. When I
look again--lo, these maddened ruffians, seated comfortably cheek by
jowl in the same boat and full of mutual good feeling, are engaged in
helping another craft to reach the companion.

This boat is laden with a fat and frightened-looking Turk, accompanied
by his harem, their progeny, a huge basket of oranges, a wardrobe done
up in sacks and blue handkerchiefs, several feather-beds--one for each
lady, I suppose--and a fine selection of jars and other pottery. The
children, who are dumb with terror, having probably never seen the sea
before, are passed up the ship's side by the leg or arm as may happen,
exactly as though they were so many porkers. Then come the fat wives.
Many are the false attempts which they make, always at the wrong time,
to reach the grating from the tossing boat. At length the exasperated
sailors, clutching them with unhallowed hands, drag them thither by
main force, and with a rush and a gasp they waddle to the deck and
sink down, mere dishevelled heaps of palpitating flesh. Next comes
their lord, somehow, his turban all awry, a very different person,
doubtless, to the stately-looking Moslem we may have met walking the
streets of Jerusalem and glancing round him with the eye of a master.
After the man the feather-beds and the oranges, which get spilt; then
a shrill whistle, a hoot from the siren, and the engine begins to bite
at the clanking anchor-chain.

The screw turns, the vessel swings round to forge ahead; the great
blue jelly-fish, fringed about with a purple more glorious than that
of Tyre, begin to float past hurriedly and be crumpled up in the
churning waters; the farewell shouts of the boatmen die away, and
presently we are in the silence of the sea running towards the falling
night. Thirty minutes more and the sandy coast of Palestine, with its
long background of grey and desolate hills, fades slowly to a line
behind us, that grows ever thinner and fainter till at length it seems
to sink into the deep and vanishes.



Here this humble record of a journey, which to him who sets it down at
any rate was of interest, ought by rights to end. Yet as it is but
human to smile at the misfortunes of our fellows, the reader may wish
to learn what befell us at Port Said.

The caviar on board the Russian boat was excellent, though as there
was something of a sea, I alone could eat it, but it is impossible to
say as much of the sleeping accommodation. At the first streak of dawn
I rose and went on deck, for we were near Port Said. Presently out of
the grey mists of the morning I saw a majestic steamer appear upon our
bow, running westward at about fifteen knots. Evidently she had
cleared from Port Said so soon as daylight made it safe for her to
round the breakwater.

"That's the /Caledonian/," said a voice at my side.

"What?" I gasped, "the /Caledonian/? Why, I have booked passages in
her, and she doesn't sail till noon to-day."

"That's her all the same. I have shipped in her too often to be
mistaken," answered the voice with calm conviction.

The /Caledonian/ it was sure enough, who with a lack of principle
unworthy of so fine a ship, had calmly departed from Port Said six
hours before her time, leaving her wretched passengers from the Holy
Land to find their way home as best they might. As the Jaffa boat was
one day late she might be two days late; nobody ever dreams of waiting
for a boat that has to do business with Jaffa.

Very, very sadly did I return to that crowded cabin to impart the news
to my still slumbering companion. At this time of the year all the
liners from the far East pass the Canal full to the last berth.
Moreover, to a man in a hurry to get home, the prospect of a long
sojourn at a Port Said hotel, while waiting for a ship, is not
pleasant. I knew it, for, as I have said, once in past years that
experience had been mine. No wonder, then, that we were depressed. As
we dropped past the breakwater, however, we perceived that the Orient
liner /Oroya/ was finishing taking in her coal, and hope rose in our
breasts. Perhaps on her we could find a berth, though, evidently,
there was no time to lose, for these mail steamers do not wait. As the
last basket of coal comes on board, before it comes indeed, up goes
the anchor and they forge ahead to sea.

We anchored, and then followed about as tumultuous a two hours as I
have ever spent. With my eye on the rapidly emptying coal barges of
the /Oroya/, I was anxious to disembark, but this was just what I
found it impossible to do. No local Cook appeared, for it was still
early, but his dragoman, a cross-eyed son of Ham, of whom I have no
pleasing recollection, put me off with soft words as to getting
ashore. At length we managed it, without his assistance, and then came
troubles innumerable. The luggage was carted off to the custom-house,
I know not why, and leaving it there my nephew and I cantered--on our
own legs--to and fro along the hot and sandy streets of Port Said.
There was a British India steamer in, and under the guidance of a
black youth whom we had picked up, as it was nearest, I visited the
office of this line, only to find that she was a cargo boat, though
willing by special arrangement to take passengers with time upon their
hands. Then we started off for the Orient Office more than a mile
away, and there, by the courtesy and kindness of the agent, Mr.
Stapledon, succeeded in securing an empty second-class cabin, for the
ship which came from Australia was crowded.

The rest is too mixed and in a sense too trivial to describe, but the
end of it was that perspiring and utterly worn-out we did get aboard
of the /Oroya/ just before she sailed. So we departed from Port Said,
leaving behind us an unrecoverable portmanteau, various other
packages, and last, but not least, the unhappy Capernaum, who in the
mad scurry had been abandoned in his yellow basket in a secluded
corner of the Russian steamer.

As the great liner got under weigh, above the clanking of cables, the
roaring of steam, and the shouting of the coalboys pushing off their
empty floats, I screamed the details of my loss to the kindly Mr.
Stapledon in the boat beneath, imploring him to rescue poor Capernaum,
who I feared would starve to death, and to forward him by the first
opportunity. A month or so later I attended at Ditchingham station,
and there in the same yellow basket, carefully covered with canvas,
was Capernaum, depressed by his long, cramped wanderings, but still
hearty. Now, as I have said, he inhabits the garden, but disliking our
climate, which forces him to spend so much of his time underground,
continually attempts to return to the Sea of Galilee via the
stableyard and the orchard.

So after days of swift steaming through quiet seas we came to
Marseilles. Thence I travelled by train to Paris, where the bookstalls
were laded with caricatures of her Majesty of a nature offensive to
her subjects,[*] and the railway officials had employed their leisure
by inscribing on the iron girders legends in honour of our enemies,
such as "/A bas les Anglais!/" and "/Gloire au Général Cronjé!/"

[*] Alas! that I must now write--of her late Majesty.

Thus ended this Winter Pilgrimage in the year of our Lord 1900. Now
when it is over--one more of life's turned leaves--I am very glad that
it was undertaken and accomplished.



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