Page images

of bold and lofty cliffs and precipices, of considerable elevation, and abrupt descent. : The southern limits of this lake could not be perceived; for there, as toward the Lake of Tiberias on the north, the view was lost in distance, without having any marked boundary to define its extent. The length of the valley, or of the Great Plain as it is called, might be therefore fully equal to that given to it by Josephus ; and its breadth of one hundred and twenty furlongs, or fifteen miles, seemed to us to be near the truth, as an average taken throughout its whole extent. The Jordan divides it, as he describes, nearly in the centre; and the contrast of the soil, the climate, and the productions, observable in the valley and in the hills, is perfectly consistent with the account given. The verdant carpet which was spread out over the cultivated land of Farah on the opposite side, was conspicuously beautiful from hence; and with the ruined aqueduct still seen near it, and the general aspect of its situation, we had no longer any doubt of its having been the site of former opulence, but admired the choice which had fixed on such a spot for a royal city.

We now quitted the summit of this first range of hills on the other side of Jordan, (as they are always called in the holy writings, from their being penned at Jerusalem,) and going

down on their eastern side over a very rugged and pathless way, we came into a deep glen about sunset ; and finding a small encampment of a friendly tribe of Bedouins there, we alighted at their tents to pass the night.

Our reception here was as warm and cordial as if we had been members of the same community, or friends of long standing. Our horses were taken from us by the young men of the tribe, and furnished with corn from the saiks of the Sheikh. We were ourselves conducted to his tent, and were soon surrounded by the elders, who sat in a half circle before us on the ground. A substantial meal, though rudely prepared, was set before us, and by dint of perseverance, aided by the courtesy of gratitude to our entertainers, and a wish to avoid detection as strangers, we contrived to surmount those revolting sensations which our stomachs often experienced, before we could eat cordially and heartily of the messes of an Arab tent.

We were a good deal entertained here by meeting a sort of travelling artist, or a jack-ofall-trades, a desert Arab, who travelled about from camp to camp among the Bedouin tribes, and obtained a competent livelihood among them by his labours. His chief occupations were as a farrier, a blacksmith, and a saddler ; occupations which embraced the whole range

of a Bedouin's wants, beyond that portion of them which could be supplied by his own labours, and by those of his wife and children. This man had his anvil, his bellows, and his smaller tools, all with him; and as we entered, he had just closed his day's work beneath the tent allotted to our repose.

He rose to receive us with something of a more studied grace in his attitude than is usually witnessed in Arabs of the desert, who are remarkable for the natural ease of their politeness; but this difference arose perhaps from the variety of his associates in an itinerant life. He was as complete a wit, and as determined a jester as any Dicky Gossip of a country village in England, and we were amused until a late hour with his facetious mirth.

We were on the point of rising with the rest to retire each to his own length and breadth of earth to repose, for there were no other beds to recline on, when all at once some one of the party recognized Abou Farah, the eldest of our guides, as one on whose head rested the blood of a son of their tribe. The accusation was hastily made, a momentary confusion ensued, but at length, after some explanation, all was calm again. This, it seemed, was an affair of four years' standing ; but it having been clearly demonstrated by one of the party that it was

simply a wound that was received, from which the sufferer had recovered, and that this was accidentally given, matters were adjusted; and a general reconciliation following, we lay down to repose under the assurance of being in perfect safety beneath their tents.




We quitted our station in the valley at sun-rise, and after continuing to travel for about two hours, in a north-east direction, always ascending by winding paths, we came to the summit of the second range of hills on the east of Jordan. The first of these that we had crossed was generally of white lime-stone, but this last had a mixture of many other kinds of rock. Among these was a dark red stone, which broke easily, and had shining metallic particles in it, like those of iron ore. It is probable, therefore, that this is the range which is called by Josephus the Iron Mountain, as before quoted; for he describes this as being only one of the ridges of the eastern hills which bounds the Jordan on that side, and runs in length as far as Moab. Both of these ranges are barren. . throughout, excepting only in some little dells near their feet, where the rain-water lodges, and favours vegetation. The first, or western one, is a little higher than the second ; but in all other respects, except these enumerated, their

« PreviousContinue »