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wall of limestone, with its magical colours whence the adjective Towâra, as applied to varying with the course of the sun and the the Arabs of the district. This is a highcondition of the atmosphere, from the dull land region of great magnificence and ingrey of the morning to the brilliant white tricacy, rising to a maximum height of of mid-day, and the dolphin hues of even- 9,300 feet. On the north-west, the mouning. Thus far the range is called Jebel er- tains are limestone and sandstone ; Mount Råhah, or mountain of rest;'- a name sin- Serbâl, and the mountains south of it are gularly corresponding with that of the oppo- red and grey granite. site headland on the Egyptian side — the This ganglion of mountains again is surJebel ’Atâkah, or mountain of deliver- rounded by a coast margin of level gravelly ance.' Approaching the plateau from Si- ground, called El-Kâ'a, “the plain, except nai, on the south, it still towers and glitters at the extreme southern point, where the from every point of elevation – a magnifi- mountain mass projects a tongue of granite cent and precipitous, almost a perpendicular into the sea; and on the east, where, to fortification, to be scaled by only one or two wards ’Akabah, it terminates in cliffs overpasses. This part of the wall of the plateau hanging the sea. bears the same name as the desert - the This cluster of mountains, of which Sinai Jebel et-Tih, or mountain of wandering' is nearly the centre, is intersected by deep Along the base of it, from 'Akabah nearly tortuous valleys, and by narrow and rugged to the Gulf of Suez - - a distance of per- passes. Its three principal peaks are Serhaps seventy or eighty miles — lies a broad bâl (6,759 feet) on the north-west ; St. belt of sand, dividing the desert plateau from Katherine (8,705 feet) in the centre; and the mountains of Sinai. This plain of sand Um Shômer (9,300 feet) in the south-east. is called the • Debbit-er-Ramleh,' or ó sandy The Sinai mountains can scarcely be said to plain,' to indicate its peculiar character. It form a system. There are no regular is almost the only sandy district of that part ranges, as in the Alps, or in the Highlands of Arabia. In the greater part of it the of Scotland: all is intricate, tumultuous sand is deep, and fatiguing to traverse. We confusion, as if a vast molten explosion had 'were about four hours in crossing it. suddenly congealed in the upper air. It
It is a popular misconception that the is,' says Sir Frederick Henniker, * : surface of the desert is sand. Save the Arabia Petræa were an ocean of lava,
Debbit-er-Ramleh,' and a little in the Wâ- which, whilst its waves were running moundy Ghŭrŭndel, probably brought from the tains high, had suddenly stood still." former by easterly winds, we encounterd no Unlike other mountainous countries, the sand. The general surface of the desert is district of Sinai is utterly barren and desohard and gravelly; it consists of broad roll- late. The Alps and the Highlands are ing plains, broken by limestone rocks and clothed with pine forests, and their intermountain ranges upheaved therefrom, which, secting valleys are carpeted with greenest worn by centuries of storm and heat, are of grass : but no tree grows upon the granite ten very fantastic in their forms. I do not sides of Sinai ; no verdure of any kind reremember any spot in our path across the lieves their desolateness. A few odorifergreat desert whence several of these low ous herbs, and here and there a stunted. mountain ranges cannot be seen. Deep fis-shrub, are found in their recesses; but neisures, also, occur in the desert; it is a land ther tree nor grass, nor any green herb, apof deserts and of pits,' as well as a land of pears to the eye: the valleys are simply drought, and of the shadow of death; a torrent beds, wreathed with drifts of sand,
land that no man passed through, and and strewed with huge boulders, through where no man dwelt.' Some of these pits which, for a few days in the year, the delare singularly formed, and are very exten- uge of rain, falling upon the mountains, sive; they resemble a series of vast chalk rushes with a depth and a force that are pits. Others are simple crevasses, and form ( irresistible and almost incredible. The natural receptacles for water, of which they mountains are Alps without verdure; the furnish a permanent and precious supply. valleys are rivers without water. There are In one extensive system of fissures, just on but few of the springs that commonly the edge of the desert plateau, we had a abound in mountain regions, and give refreshing bath.
rise to great rivers. Hence the desolation Separated from the great plateau by the of Sinai. In Wâdy Feirân, where there is Debbit-er-Ramleh is the grand tumultuous a spring of water tolerably afiluent, there mountain system of Sinai, the mountains is a luxuriant vegetation. But what the
of Tûr, as they are collectively called, Tûr scenery of Sinai lacks in verdure is almost being the Arabic word for mountain ; *Quoted by Stanley, 'Sinai and Palestine,' p. 12.
compensated by the gorgeous colours of its The entire history of the Peninsula is remountains. It is almost impossible to con- stricted to the eighteen months during which ceive, and it is difficult to exaggerate, the the Israelites sojourned in it. It has formed magnificence and variety of colouring, in no nation; it has had no government; it both the limestone and sandstone moun- has witnessed no events that the historian tains of the north, and the granite moun- might record. In all other countries that tains of the south. The sandstone deepens have won a record in the annals of the into the rich glowing red which gives its world there has been, first, a local history, name to the similar formation of Edom; generally springing out of legend and myth, and where it is not a gorgeous green, the and recording invasion, conflict, and congranite vies with it, and in the ever-chan- quest - one nation superseding or interging light they present infinite varieties of mingling with another, until national chartint and combination. The same effect is acter is formed and national history achievnever produced twice. Nothing can be ed. Not so with the Peninsula of Sinai : more magical than these effects of colour- it has no aborigines; it is identified with no ing. We shall often be constrained to race; it has no autocthonous history; it speak of them in their local peculiarities. owes all its renown to the transfent passage They far surpass the wondrous hues with through it of a foreign people, and the rewhich the setting sun suffuses the Aiguille markable events that befel them therein. Rouge, while the mystic shadows are climb- Before their advent, we know only, that it ing, and just before they enwrap the sum- was possessed by the wandering descendmit of the great white throne :' they are ants of Esau ; and since their advent, we more gorgeous even than the marvellous know only, that it is possessed by the wan* after-glow' which we so often saw in dering descendants of Ishmael. Its history
is a great darkness, upon which only the . The lack of geographical magnitude in light of the pillar of fire and of the lightthe Peninsula of Sinai is more than com- nings of Sinai have broken in. But these pensated by its geographical position, and were so. vivid and Divine, that they have its unique associations. In the old world, filled the world with their awful glory; and its position was at the junction of the two Sinai has become one of the world's most great continents of civilization, and closely sacred places. With the Jew it divides adjacent to the cradles of the world's chief religious reverence with Jerusalem – with religions. Indeed, each religion in its turn the Mahomerlan, with Mecca — with the seems to have regarded Sinai as its holy Christian, with Bethlehem. There is, perplace. There are reasons for thinking that haps, no place that gathers so many various before the time of Moses Serbâl was a sanctities, that inspires so much reverent shrine of Egyptian pilgrimage. To the awe, the associations of which are so thrillJew it was associated with the most awful ing, the power of which is so subduing. In and sacred events of his religious history. part, this probably arises from the fact that The footmark of Mahomet's camel upon its sacred associations have been preserved Jebel Mousa is still pointed out, as a tradi- so inviolate. Its desert barrenness, its tion of the prophet's association with it; mountain ruggedness, have restricted huwhile it has ever been a chief resort of man habitation to the tent of the Bedouin Christian Eremites. And yet the moral or the cell of the hermit. It has thus been influence of these traditions is so utterly •preserved sacred to the associations of the lost, that, perhaps, no people upon the face law-giving. In Jerusalem, the hurrying, of the earth are more destitute of all that irreverent font of generations of crowded constitutes a religion than the Towâra city life, interrupted only by the devastaArabs.
tions of war and the solitude caused by exBut although Sinai has always lain, and ile, have almost obliterated the sacred footstill lies, beside the gateway of nations, it steps of Him who once trod its ways.
The bas never been their path. No city has débris of its ancient buildings lie twenty feet ever stood within its boundaries. No port thick beneath its modern streets. Even has ever given commercial life to its shores. Gethsemane has been desecrated into a Migratory Bedouins, scattered hermits, and trim and gravelled garden, with gaudy flowpassing pilgrims have, from the days of the ers in partitioned beds, and fancy palings Amalekites, been its only inhabitants ; the around its venerable olives; the whole enlittle ecclesiastical city of Paran being closed by a lofty wall, within which the scarcely an exception, inasmuch as it was cottage of the custodian is built, and at the only, for a while, a larger aggregate of doorway of which you pay for admission; pilgrims and hermits.
- a place over which irreverent crowds
are irreverently shown. The loneliness that I found them at our doors when we rose in sustains hallowed association ; the venera- the morning. Our choice fell upon Hassan ble antiquity that no modern touch pro- Ismael, a Nubian, from Assouán. fanes, that only hushed and trembling teet about fifty years of age, and black as a approach, are utterly wanting. The coal; but with a shrewd, good-tempered Mount of Olives, again, whose paths re- face, wbich his character did not belie. He main as when trod by
had been a dragoman for upwards of twen
ty years, and had accumulated considerable « Those blessed feet property. Although unable to read, he had Which eighteen hundred years ago were nailed given his two sons a good education in the For our advantage on the bitter cross,” school of the American mission, and had
himself picked up a considerable amount of is the suburb of a great city, and is daily miseellaneous information from gentlemen trodden by hundreds of thoughtless wayfar- with whom he had travelled. He was toler
Not so the valleys and mountains of ably well acquainted with the history of Sinai : rarely is it visited and the traveller Egypt, and with the general state of things conscious of other presence beside his own, in Europe. Although a Mussulman, he was save a few monks and servants of the con- liberal in his conceptions. He had a great vent, occasional pilgrims, whose reverence reverence for Isa (Jesus), and even avowis attested by their arduous pilgrimage, and ed his belief, which, he said, he had heard perchance a few Bedouins pasturing their an Imaum avow from the pulpit, that, one Hocks. The holy mount has ever been a day, Christianity would be the religion of desert solitude. It has suffered no effacing the world. He was inquisitive after knowlpower of later events, or of a numerous edge, sensible in judginent, and shrewd in population. Like a great cathedral in the observation. You cannot,' said he one day, heart of a city, it has stood sequestered expect all Arabs to be good; angels is selfrom the world. Its awful peaks are soli- dom.' tary, solemn, and unchanged; they are as Hassan had been strongly recommended when the foot of Jehovah trod them, as to us; and his sensible, business-like way of when the lightnings of Jehovah enwrapped negotiation predisposed us in his favour. them, as when the awful trumpet rever-· Fight,' said he, • for your bargain, and be berated from summit to summit, and the good friends ever afterwards.' We had no still more awful thunder made them trem- cause to repent our choice. Hassan served ble to their base. Cities change; moun- us faithfully and honorably, and provided tains remain the same. It is, therefore, for us carefully and liberally. Fiery in temwith a feeling of undisturbed and indescri- per, rapid and vehement in expression, he bable awe, that the pilgrim first beholds was also experienced and wise. He manthese solemn peaks, and climbs to their aged his Arabs admirably, and proved himsummit. It needs but little imagination to self equal to every emergency.
At the exmake him feel as if the Divine footstep piry of our sixty days' contract with bim, we were still upon them, as if the awful voice parted with, I believe, mutual esteem and that the people could not hear any more regret. were latent in the atmosphere. And yet Our contract with Hassan was duly exno solitary ruin remains to help the imagi- ecuted at the English consulate. In connation of the traveller; no record save the sideration of a fixed sum per diem, he was mysterious inscriptions here and there upon to conduct us, as we might direct, from the rocks — which only fanaticism can as- Cairo to Sinai, and through the great desert sociate with the law-giving; no monument to Palestine and Syria. He was to provide save the unchanged and silent face of na- everything necessary for the journey ture, which, in every feature and with start- camels, horses, tents, bedding, provisions, ling minuteness, testifies to the local truth- and servants. He was to pay all bakhshish, fulness of the historian.
provide local guides where necessary, and Such is the district traversed by the wri- whenever we chose to sleep in convents, or ter and his friends in March 65. The stay at hotels, where such were available, he preparations for our journey were made in was to pay the bill. Indeed, so far as the Cairo, and occupied several days. First, necessary expenses of travel were concerna dragoman bad to be chosen out of some ed, we needed no money until our contract six or seven, who gave us no peace until our expired. choice was made. They beset our going out Hassan's first concern was to covenant and our coming in; we passed them when with a Sheikh of the Towara Arabs, through we went to our bedrooms at night, and whose district we were to pass. They ocning gave
cupy the peninsula of Sinai south of the It was an unfailing interest, out of the reJebel Tih; and are said to number between cesses of our tents, to watch their movefive and six thousand. Sheikhs of the desert ments as they sat around their camp-fire, always hover about Cairo in the travelling or stood and gesticulated in animated conseason. Hassan, therefore, had no difficulty: versation. he engaged Sheikh Taima, who undertook The great weakness of the Arab is tobacto provide twenty-one camels, with suffi- co. We, generally, in the m cient attendants, to take us to Sinai, and them a supply for the day : they were just thence to Khan Nûkhl, — half-way between like children, always on the look-out for Sinai and Hebron, beyond which he had what we might give them, — thankful even no power to take us. The contract is for for a few crumbs of biscuit or fragments of so much each camel, per diem, the men orange. The difficulty about the supply of ! being thrown into the bargain. Each Sheikh the Israelites in the desert is greatly diminis the patriarchal head of his family. Tai- ished on seeing upon how liitle an Arab ma's family consisted of about eighty per- and his camel can live. sons, incluing sons and daughters, sons-in- Taima did not always maintain his aulaw and daughters-in-law, nephews, nieces, thority. His men would sometimes struggrandchildren, &c. It is not always easy gle with him very irreverently. Hassan, to ascertain the numbers of a family. How too, would settle a dispute by seizing the many children have you?'I asked of an Arab. first huge stick that he could lay hands • Four, and two girls,' was the reply. Taima upon, and thrashing away right and left, was between fisty and sixty years of age, Taima coming in for a full share of the simple, unsophisticated, faithiul fellow, with blows. This, indeed, is so much a matter a good-natu ed countenance, always cheer- of course, that it is resented no more than a ful, willing, and polite; full of solicitude for sharp word is with us. Happily we never our safety and comfort, occasionally keep had occasion to use our sticks, although it ing watch all night round our tents. He was repeatedly urged upon us as the only was somewhat buckish, occasionally com- way of managing Arabs. May not this ing out in a sheep-skin, and sandals roughly Oriental readiness to administer blows be made of the skin of a fish. He was a true the special reason of the Apostle's injuncgentleman, and, no doubt, could boast a tion, so strange and superfluous to our Westpedigree beside which that of the Percys ern notions, that a bishop should be no is but of yesterday. His saláam was very striker'? emphatic and graceful. His son Salama The personal staff of Hassan consisted of accompanied bim, -- a bright, laughing a cook, a dreamy, introspective man, with boy of fifteen or sixteen, with handsome eyes like half-opened oysters, but a capital features, a clear olive complexion, brilliant artiste; and of two servants to attend upon dark eyes, and a set of teeth that any us, - 'Abishai, a Coptic Christian, who dentist's door might envy. Taima had was graduating as a dragoman, and Ibraalso an Abyssinian slave, named Abdallah, him, who, Maliometan though he was, got intensely bla:k, the blackness being pecu- to our canteen and made himself drunk, liarly lustrous, like velvet, or the bloom of stole a pair of boots, and had to be ignoa damson. His mouth was prodigious, and miniously dismissed at Jerusalem. its tusky, disparted teeth unpleasantly sug- We were thus wholly free from responsigestive of those of an alligator, of which, as bility. Hassan was primarily responsible for he was in a perpetual grin, we had the full both our lives and our property. If he failbenefit. He was, indeed, the merriest of ed in any part of his contract, he might be the party, although any of us might have taken before the first pasha we reached : purchased him for £15 or £20. He was, Taima was responsible to him; and through moreover, a very clever fellow; besides Taima, his whole tribe. It, through them, being the best shot of the party, he was an harm happened to any of us, he would be accomplished botanist, and generally well seized and imprisoned the first town he eninformed.
tered. If any article were lost, he must make The camels belonged to different mem- it good or find the thief; the Sheikh alone bers of Taima's clan, and were accompa- is responsible for the members of his tribe. nied by their owners, ten genuine Be- Thus, an English traveller to whom Hassan douins, sons of the desert, scarcely civi- was dragoman the previous year, was roblized; all, however, courteous, some of them bed of his revolver at Shiloh, by a fellow handsome, and with a natural grace of fig- who, in the same place, hung about us for ure and movement that would not have dis- some time. Complaint was made to the Pacredited the first gentleman in Europe.'sha Nablûs, who immediately paid the trav
eller the estimated value of his pistol, arrest- justed outside the door of each tent. We ed the Sheikh of the village, and imprisoned were astonished to find our table laid with him, until a fine which he levied upon the home neatness and comfort, - a white tableinhabitants was paid. It was for the Sheikh cloth and napkins, always scrupulously to discover and punish the individual of- clean; glass, plate, salts, &c. The dinner fender. This is no doubt a rough kind of generally consisted of five courses, viz., justice, but it is the only justice possible soup, mutton, fowls — on Sundays, turkey among the Bedouins. It has the merit of fritters or puddings, mishmash or prunes, being very simple and very effective. In cheese, with a dessert of dried fruits, oranmost parts of the desert a traveller is as safe ges, and preserves; the liquid accompanifrom personal injury, and much more safe ment being bitter beer, sherry, and, when it in his property, than in Cheapside. So far was necessary to neutralize the active qualias we had experience of the Towâra Arabs, ties of doubtful water, cognac. A fragrant they are scrupulously honest. If any tri- cup of café noir, and, about an hour after, a fling article was dropped or left behind in delicious cup of tea — provision for which the tents, it was invariably brought to us, should always be made in England — followgenerally before we had missed it. It is said, ed by a tchibouk, crowned the whole. Inthat if a camel laden with goods should fall deed, Hassan's care and experience omitted in the desert, its owner may draw a cir«le nothing. The only defect of our cuisine round it, and leave it in perfect security, was its necessary monotony, mutton and even for days, while he fetches another. fowls alternating with fowls and mutton.
For the sake of such as may be curious On the whole, the fare of the desert was not about tent life in the desert, I may say that to be complained of — it was far in advance it is very enjoyable. An hour's rest for of manna and quails. lunch, in the middle of the day, enabled the Reading, journal-writing, or flower-presscamels to reach the camping-ground before ing occupied us until about ten o'clock, and us, so that we commonly found our canvas then to bed; taking care to tuck in warmly, city built. This consisted of two large tents for nights in the desert are cold, often infor ourselves, and a third for Hassan and the tensely so. By five in the morning we are servants. Culinary rites were performed in shivering at our tent-door, under an al fresco the open air by the side of the latter, at a sponge, making the most of a regulation portable stove sheltered from the wind, if supply of water. Then breakfast – coffee there was any, by a bit of canvas. Three or tea, with three or four hot dishes of or four fowls — on Sundays a turkey - some kind or other, eggs, and jam or marwere generally being prepared for sacrifice malade; by seven, or half-past, our city of when we arrived. The camels were per- the desert has disappeared, and we are pamitted, for awhile, to roam in search of the tiently doing our two and a half miles an prickly ghurkud. At dark they were pick- hour. About twelve o'clock we lunch, either eted close by; their drivers sleeping be- upon the burning sand under our umbreltween their legs. Our chief inconvenience las, or, if we can find one, “under the shadow arose from their inconceivable and incessant of a great rock;' - cold meat, hard-boiled chattering, sometimes squabbling, which eggs, bread, biscuit and cheese, an orange was often prolonged far into the night; and each, and a few dates or figs; water limited, from the guttural grumbling of the camels. and often doubtful, a curious leathery Of our twenty-one camels - our party be- concoction, out of a kind of leathern boot, ing large - twelve or thirteen were bag- called a "zemzemia,' generally, theregage camels, carrying, besides our portman- fore, adulterated with a little brandy: only teaus, almost all conceivable things ; a desert traveller can appreciate the blesscoops of live poultry, casks of water, butch- ing of pure water. ers' meat — always mutton ; — cooking ne- Travellers to Sinai commonly cross in cessaries, crockery, glasses, &c., -ingeni- boats from Suez to the · Ayûn Mousa,' a ously packed in two large canteen chests; distance of six or seven miles; the camels tents, bedsteads and bedding, camp-stools, being sent round by the head of the gulf. and mental wash-basins — all spontaneously We determined to accompany our camels, provided by Hassan. Nothing was want- that we might get a better conception of the ing. Our tents were comfortably carpet- formation of the gulf: this was a day's joured; small iron bedsteads, with new bed- ney of about seven hours. We left our hotel, ding, three in each tent, were, with our however, on the preceding evening, that portmanteaus, arranged around the sides. we might inaugurate the tent life of the One table for dinner was adjusted against next sixty days by an experimental enthe tent-pole ; another for washing was ad- campment a mile or two in the desert. It