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stocked by the piety of a Franciscan fraternity, and
went through it to a new khan which they have built



PETER LOMBARD 145

there for the accommodation of pilgrims like ourselves.
It is a conspicuous object for miles around, because it
is built of white stone and stands out against the dark
hills. We could see it quite clearly from Tiberias.
To reach it through the garden we clamber through
some ruins. Contemplate them reverently — they are
the remains of the synagogue in which was spoken
the great discourse of St. John vi., and which was the
scene of so many other incidents in the Saviour's life.
The ruins are striking in themselves ; those pillars
which must have marked the place in which the roll
of the Law was kept are in situ, though broken off
about 4 ft. from the ground. There is a broken
entablature containing some beautiful carving, a vine,
some pomegranates, and a pot of manna, clearly
discernible. All tumbled about, overgrown in many
places with weeds, such is the condition of the place
once " exalted unto Heaven " by the presence of
its Eternal King. We spoke softly as we remembered
the solemn foretelling of the present terrible death.
About five minutes' walk at the back of the convent
is a fine tomb which is traditionally called the tomb
of the prophet Nahum. Our guide bade us look to
our going, because, he said, there were a good many
venomous snakes about, but we did not see any. On
our way back there was one point of view to which I

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146 THE LETTERS OF

call special attention. Just after passing Bethsaida
an opening of the hills inward discloses to us Kurum
Hattin, popularly known as the " Mount of the
Beatitudes." We can see the whole north side of the
mountain, and the slope of it down to the lake. It
must be three or four miles off as the crow flies.

This being impressed on the reader's thought, I
next call attention to St. Mark i. 21. It certainly
appears from the course of that narrative that our
Lord went on to Bethsaida, which is not far off.
A very instructive essay in Good Words which I
remember perfectly well — though writing in Palestine,
I am unable to give a reference to it — is entitled " A
Day with Christ," and dwells with great eloquence on
the sequence of that day's events. Follow it on.
The Lord must at the close of that laborious day
have retired for a while to rest. But He rose up a
great while before day, "went out into a solitary place
and there prayed." But there was no rest there.
His Apostles came to Him with the words " All men
seek for Thee." He came down from the top of the
mountain, but probably feeling the burden greater
than He could support, He chose His twelve
Apostles to help Him (St. Luke vi. 12-13), and with
them He came to the multitude, and there on the



PETER LOMBARD 147

slope of that mountain He spoke the Sermon on the
Mount. The healing of the leper followed, and other
mighty works, as well as the parables of St. Matt. xiii.
But at length, worn out with labours, He went on
board ship, gave commandment to depart to the other
side, threw Himself down upon the deck, and was
immediately in a sleep so profound that even the
hurricane could not disturb it — nothing but the cry
of distress (Mark iv. 38).

I have written all this without making it clear what
has made me hesitate about the locality of the great
sermon. If the sequence of events be as I have
stated it, it may fairly be asked, " Is it probable that
our Blessed Lord would go away so far from the
scene of the day's labours to seek the retirement of
which He felt the need? Were there not solitary
places nearer at hand ? "

In accepting the traditional view, after careful
reading, I reply to the questions asked. First, I do
not believe that there was a lonely hill nearer than
Hattin. I have looked round and round, and could
find none. And, moreover, it may well be that the
whole neighbourhood was a network of villages, as is
the case at present where I am writing these lines

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148 THE LETTERS OF

under Lebanon. The Gospel tells us of Capernaum
and Bethsaida without indicating localities very
minutely, and it is quite conceivable, and in harmony
with the general tenor of the passage, that He was
moving along all that day towards the base of Hattin.
Accepting, then, the tradition which belongs to the
place, and believing that Kurun Hattin was the
Mount of the Beatitudes, there seems to me a
wonderful fitness in the locality. " He went up into
a mountain and there continued all night in prayer
to God." The side nearest to the lake has a
depression on its top shaded with trees. There was
much in the loneliness and silence of these trees
which reminded one of Gethsemane. If the Saviour
loved that shade it is in harmony with His love of
the sacred olive-grove by Jerusalem — if there He
called to Him the twelve, and with them descended
to the lower slope, still " on the Mount," but a place
where thousands could have gathered themselves
together to hear Him proclaim the law of His
Kingdom — everything fits entirely with the scene as
Faith beholds it to-day, and once more reverently and
thankfully calls back the scene.

I cannot remember who it is who suggests that the
illustration of the 4< city set on a hill " was prompted
by Safed, which is certainly a most conspicuous



PETER LOMBARD 149

object to this day from Hattin. You see it far and
wide, right on the top of the hill at the north end
of the lake.

I must not omit two little incidents of this day's
expedition. On our return our sailors let down their
nets opposite Magdala and caught us a capital dish
of fish for dinner. And in the evening after dinner
we were invited to go and see the whole party of
them at supper. Our cook had prepared for them
a goodly feast of "rice and meat." The rice, I believe,
was seasoned with herbs and butter, and served in an
iron dish as big as a large tea-tray, the meat
was laid in slices upon it. The guests sat round
on the ground, and fed themselves with their fingers.
First they ate all the meat, then took small handfuls
of the rice, rolled them up into pellets, and swallowed
them, occasionally turning round to us to say " Ver
good." So I have no doubt it was, for our old Moslem
cook was a superb artist, and not one of his dishes
for us was a failure.

Next day, Sunday, we had an early Celebration
in one of the tents, walked by the lake all day, and
had evensong up in the hills, using the rocks as our
prayer-desks. Next morning we started for the
Waters of Merom.



150 THE LETTERS OF



XII

Once more we went by boat up the Lake of Galilee
as far as Dalmanutha, our horses going along the
shore to meet us there. Our crew, poor fellows, were
profuse in their professions of allegiance, and kissed
our hands at parting. We mounted our horses and
climbed a very steep hill, after turning round often
to get another and another regretful look at the
sacred Lake and the Mount of Beatitudes. We were
now on the caravan road to Damascus, and saw
hundreds of camels in the course of the day. Some
of them were unloaded, and getting a meal among
the shrubs. The more I have seen of these beasts the
more I like them, admiring, most of all, their stately
walk as they move along in line. In one case we saw
forty tied together, a man in charge was lying at full
length on the back of the first, the others were heavily
laden with goods only, and they went in such a quiet,
business-like way, it made me feel quite systematic
and orderly to look at them. Sometimes the camel
gets angry when he is being loaded ; on such occasions
he turns his head sharply, grinds his great teeth, and
grunts exactly like the rolling of a muffled drum.



PETER LOMBARD 151

A ride of two hours and a half brought us within
sight of the Lake of Merom, and we moved along
the whole western side of it at about a mile's distance.
Our destination this evening was Hazor, the ancient
capital of Jabin, King of Canaan. The ruins of
Hazor are among the largest in the country. It must
have been a place of prodigious strength, and the
wide level plain explains clearly how he was able
to manoeuvre with his nine hundred chariots of iron,
and why Joshua found it necessary in this portion
of his campaign to hough the horses (Joshua xi.,
Judges iv.). We saw more Bedouin encampments all
over this valley than anywhere else. Some were
tending cattle, others weaving tents, for which,
I believe, they find an export market at Safed.
The Jews have got possession of a good deal of
land about here, and are busy getting it well under
cultivation.

Next morning we again went northward, parallel
with the Upper Jordan, which, however, is not here
the swift, compact stream which we had seen in the
south. The land is, very swampy in places, and
constantly we saw not one stream, but a wide expanse
of waters dispersed through the green pastures, snow-
topped Hermon closing it in all the while on the



152 THE LETTERS OF

eastern side. This part of the Jordan Valley is a
favourite resort of sportsmen, wildfowl abounding, to
say nothing of bears, hyenas, and wolves.

We rode for five hours this morning, our object
being to get eastward of the Jordan. But the swamps
hindered us much, and more than once we had to
retrace our way. Sometimes our path was on the
eastern slopes of the hills of Galilee, and here were
some of the stiffest bits of climbing that we had.
Every stream that we forded was, of course, a
tributary of the river. As we moved towards the
head of it, the country was luxuriant, full of trees,
chiefly maple and dwarf oak, and the converging
streams grew more frequent, and rushed impetuously
along. The gardens of herbs and vineyards were
charming to look upon over the landscape, and con-
stantly we saw the deserted " lodges " such as the
prophet speaks of (Isaiah i., 8), where in the fruit
season the watchmen keep guard, and, their duty
done, leave them to tumble down. The Jordan
through its whole course receives but few tributaries,
and therefore gets no larger than it is at the Galilee
outflow ; but I was hardly prepared to find the main
stream so powerful as it was as we crossed the Merom
Valley eastward. A ride through a beautiful and



PETER LOMBARD 153

romantic gorge, with the river rushing and splashing
beneath us, brought us at length to a fine bridge of
three arches, spanning the stream. I suppose it is a
Roman bridge. It is strongly built, and wide
enough for a carriage, but has no parapet whatever.
It is exquisitely festooned by nature with wild
flowers, red, yellow, and white, in a setting of green
foliage. A glorious mass of cyclamens in full bloom
covered one of the arches. After this we had another
climb over a stony path, another small stream or
two to ford, and then we reached Laish, the scene of
the settlement of Judges xviii. 20. The first object
on which our eye rested was a group of magnificent
oaks. Large trees are so rare in Palestine that we
are much attracted by them when we do find them.
One was a "fetish" tree, z>., hundreds of parcels
were hung upon it, apparently letters folded in paper,
I suppose on the me tabula principle of Horace. We
had not the least intention of meddling with the tree,
but a few natives came to keep watch upon us lest we
should pick leaves off it as we halted at midday
under the tree. There also came a man with a bear
and monkey, and put them through the usual per-
formances. The bear belongs to the district, a large
but apparently gentle beast. A strong source stream
rushed along by us, and we filled our bottles, and



154 THE LETTERS OF

drank of it copiously. Then we climbed the hill close
by ; it is little more than a knoll, but, as the plain is
wide, the view from the top is fine. To the south of
us, about a couple of miles off, a grove of small trees
marks the site of Jeroboam's northern altar.

Then we rode away again, and at even-tide reached
Banias, the ancient Caesarea Philippi, where we found
our camp pitched in a most lovely olive grove, and
a well-stocked tea-table which our indefatigable
dragoman had caused to be prepared for us. People
flocked round us as usual with old coins to sell,
Roman, Byzantine, and Crusading. Banias is very
interesting from its historical remains. There are two
temples, one of the times of the Seleucidae, and one
built by Herod Philip. On the top of a perpendicular
cliff is one of the grandest ruins in the country, a vast
castle, 1,500 feet long, which must have been of
prodigious strength, not only from its position, but
because of its massive walls. The greater portion
appears to be of the date of the Crusades, though
some of it is older.

The name Banias is a corruption of Paneas, a
shrine of the god Pan, which stood beside a splendid
fountain which gushes forth from under the rock, and



PETER LOMBARD 155

flows away to join its fellows in making up the
Jordan stream. Stanley supposes that our Lord's
promise, " On this rock I will build My Church," may
have been suggested by the castle, conspicuous for
miles round, on the strong rock above us. It will be
remembered that it was in this neighbourhood, the
furthest point which He reached, that the words were
spoken.

Next day was the hardest climb we had yet had.
Our dragoman confided to me afterwards that he had
earnestly prayed day by day that we might have fine
weather for this day's journey, for a storm here is
extremely dangerous. I can say without exaggera-
tion that for hours it is all just like riding up a stone
quarry. You are making your way up the shoulder
of Hermon, and great boulders here and crumbling
debris there, alike call upon you to take heed to your
going. And though rain would be painful, a storm
of wind down the narrow parts of the pass would be
worse, and this is not rare, and a further danger is
found in the mists, which are also by no means
unusual. As it was, we had a glorious, sunny day,
and the continual change of prospect as we sur-
mounted each successive height delighted us each
hour. First we passed through the village, which is



156 THE LETTERS OF

walled all round, bearing testimony to its former
strategical importance. There is a fine gateway and
bastion, but as we look closely at it we see how it has
been knocked about in past sieges. Thus we observe
a great many pillars built endwise into the wall.

It is remarkable to notice how, as we leave
Palestine for Syria proper, the geological formation
is altogether changed. Palestine is all limestone;
the side of Hermon is unmistakably volcanic. At
first it reminded me a good deal of the Malvern
Hills, but presently there came another change.
After some hours' stiff "riding we reached the crest
of the pass, and got a great view to the east. I will
not undertake to say how may peaks, plainly extinct
volcanoes, were within sight, but I believe there were
twenty. Far away to the south-east was the Hauran,
the Trachonitis of the New Testament and the
Argob of the Old. At our feet lay a plain absolutely
barren ; there was hardly a shrub upon it ; but we
comforted ourselves by thinking how smooth it
looked for our riding. This is the great Syrian
desert (i Kings xix. 15), and when, after our midday
halt, we descended into it, we found ourselves un-
deceived as to the smoothness. It is all covered with
volcanic remains, and reminds you of the English



PETER LOMBARD 157

Black Country, only it is Nature who has thrown out
the heaps of cinders and calcined rock, and not the
iron-smelters. You make your way through and over
great heaps, and could fancy yourself in the suburbs
of Walsall or Glasgow.

But before descending into this desert plain one
object called for our delighted attention. Far off
eastward a long line of dark green marked an oasis
in the desert. And in the middle of that green oasis
was a narrow strip white as snow, like a fine touch of
light in a water-colour drawing. When we got our
glass into focus this white strip resolved itself into a
mass of houses and beautiful minarets. It was our
first view of Damascus, apparently the oldest existing
city in the world. We were still two days' journey
from it.

I ought just to mention that on our way we passed
a flourishing Druse village where they sell porcupine
quills to passers-by. These Druses hold much in
common with the Mahometans, but superadd to their
assertion of the Unity of God a good deal of Free-
masonry. I made a Masonic sign to one whom I
met in the road and he returned it. But I did not
learn more about them than I had read in books. Our



158 THE LETTERS OF

dragoman, being a Maronite, has an hereditary feud
with them, and hates them cordially.

At the close of the day we forded the Awaj, the
ancient Pharpar, a swift, dark blue stream, and in a
few minutes reached Beit Jinn, our camping-place for
the night.

XIII

I SHOULD like to give the reader an idea of
Damascus, but it is not an easy kind of task with
any Oriental city ; everything is unlike what I ever
saw before. I have already mentioned the distant
view of the mass of green foliage by which it is
surrounded. Coming closer, this great mass is seen
to comprise oaks, olives, and, above all, fruit trees in
such profusion as certainly I shall never see again-
They are mostly apricot trees ; right and left for
miles there they were in full bloom, and I need not
say the sight is a very lovely one. You enter the
unpaved and dirty streets ; behind the mud walls,
and in the valley of the beautiful Abana river below
you on the left, are still these apricot orchards. At
length the houses get the upper hand, and presently
we are among a crowded population. Two sites are



PETER LOMBARD 159

claimed as the scene of St. Paul's conversion, one on
the road by which we have come, another on the
southern side of the city, over which the Franciscans
have built a small church. Plainly, it is impossible
to settle matters between these sites, for both roads
are, as probably they always were, frequented roads
to Jerusalem. They show you the place, too, where
the Apostle was let down in a basket. Our guide-
book dismisses it with a sneer, and says that the wall
is plainly Mahometan. It may be — though I am by
no means clear on that point — but if it be, it is
probably on the site of a previous wall. The " street
called Straight" there is no question about. Mark
Twain laughs at it, and says it must be so named
because there is not a straight line in it. A dull
joke, and not a true one ; for, as things go in these
parts, it is a very straight street. At any rate, you
can see nearly the whole length of it as you stand
in the middle, just where there is a slight declension.
I should call Oxford-street "straight," though you
can't see the whole of it at once. Damascus is
rectangular west, north, and east, on the south it is
the segment of a circle. Straight-street runs the
whole length, and is about a mile long within the
walls, and about a quarter of a mile more outside on



160 THE LETTERS OF

the west. About half of it is covered in, like the
Burlington-arcade, though the general aspect is differ-
ent enough. The width of the city is not half the
length, the first aspect is confirmed by intimate
acquaintance, a long narrow strip. Let us enter the
street on the west side. We are under the waggon
roof, most of the houses comprise shops, and there,
as everywhere, the Turks squat like tailors, and
chaffer with buyers. There are articles in repousst
brass, walking-sticks, pipes, carpets, silks, silver
chains, sweetmeats. No pavement ; and the street
is narrow. If you are run over in an Eastern town,
the responsibility rests entirely with yourself, as
much as it would with a man who should walk on
an English railway. Damascus is different from
Jerusalem and from most towns in this, that carriages
drive through a few of the streets. There are not
very many, but there is no right or left, in fact there
is seldom room for two abreast. Consequently you
must keep your eyes open, and when one comes get
out of the way. The driver will shout, as the men
do on a fire engine, but he docs not think of stop-
ping : it is your look-out, and not his. A camel,
with his nose in the air, has no more idea of making
way for you than a locomotive engine has. I saw
one or two people knocked down ; they scrambled



PETER LOMBARD ' 161

out of the way as they lay, and then got up
and took it as a matter of course. Some of the
buildings, especially the places of exchange, are very
handsome.

Guided by my map, I sought out the house in this
street in which St. Paul is said to have been baptized.
It is now a mosque, and for some days was always
closed when I went by. But one day I found it
open, and expressed a wish to go in. My guide did
not much like the idea ; but he said, " You will have
to pull your boots off." " No difficulty there," I
replied, and I took them off in the street, gave them
to him, and went over the threshold. But it was
rather ticklish work, I found afterwards. Some of
the bystanders came round my companion and
angrily inquired what I had gone in for. He,
constant to his inventive habits, replied that I had
gone in to pray. One of them followed me and kept
close to me as I walked round. There is nothing to
see, however. There were about a dozen people
praying with great devoutness : at a great bath at
the end two or three were bathing their feet. I
saw that my guide was glad when I emerged and
put on my boots. This site is probably genuine.
So I think, is the alleged house of Ananias at the

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162 THE LETTERS OF

east-end of the street. This is now a small Christian
oratory.

I forget whether I have mentioned that dogs seem
to swarm in Eastern cities. They have no owners.
There they are loafing about all day near the same
spots. Offal and house sweepings are thrown out
each evening, and the dogs are the scavengers.
Anything in the way of bones and meat they devour ;
the rest is trampled into the ground. Here and
there you see a rough kennel for mothers who have
puppies. Nobody owns them, but everybody seems
to protect them. They make night hideous with
their barkings and howlings : you complain in vain,
nobody will molest one. Most painful is it to see
those which are paralysed or mangy. An English
lady in Constantinople told me what trouble they had
there with diseased dogs. There was nothing for it
but for her servants to slip out after dark and stab
the poor brutes to the heart, to put them out of their
misery. But what amazes you most is that these dogs
lie and sleep in the roads, and not one in twenty
disturbs himself at passers by. He takes it for granted
that it is you who are to get out of his way, not
he out of yours. M. pointed out to me as we went
along how the holes in the roof arching the street



PETER LOMBARD 163

threw patches of light upon the ground all along, and
on each patch lay a dog basking in the sun. The
drivers of the carriages took care to avoid them.

Just outside the Eastern Gate, at the end of Straight-
street, is a squalid-looking ruin. It is said to be the
house of Naaman, and till lately was used as a Leper
Hospital. Passing by it we come, as usual, to a
cemetery ; not a pretty God's-acre like an English
churchyard, but a long stretch of waste land, without
any kind of fence between it and the road, uncared
for apparently, and untended. There is a Christian
burial ground also on this side of the city, and in it I
sought and, with a little trouble, found the grave of
Buckle, the historian. He died at Damascus in 1862.
The stone was covered with blossoms which the wind
had blown down from the surrounding fruit trees.

The finest building is the " Great Mosque," at the
back of the Bazaars, a quadrangular building 280 by
200. Some of it is Roman, and it was once a
magnificent Christian Church, and though it is now
defiled by being turned into a Mosque, you can make
out the former situation of the altar and the choir.
There are a few beautiful Christian mosaics which
have escaped the barbarians, and some of the

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164 THE LETTERS OF

Mohammedan work is very skilful and beautiful.
Here, almost to a certainty, was the house of Rimmon
in which Naaman bowed, as his master Benhadad
leaned upon his hand. Here, too, was the altar
which so tickled the fancy of stupid Ahaz, that he
had one like it made for the temple of Jerusalem.

It was very curious that when the Mohammedans
knocked this fair building about they overlooked one
inscription over a doorway. We clambered over
roofs and inspected it. I took a copy but have


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