Please get your Bible and read Ezekiel’s Prophecy, and then imagine me set down among the ruins of this old Queen of the Seas. Friday morning we left Banyas and rode across the plain of Huleh or Merom. Here we stopped and saw another of the fountains of the Jordan at Laish or Dan. You will find all about it in Judges xviii. It is a beautiful spot, a little hill with springs bursting out all around its roots, and running in many channels down the fertile plain towards Lake Merom. Now we have reached the northern border, and may look over into Palestine from Dan towards Beersheba. Out of the plain we struck again into the mountains, and lunched by a picturesque little bridge over the Litany, under the shadow of a splendid great Phoenician castle, famous in Crusaders’ history, which overlooks all the country from a lofty hill. We spent that night at the village of Nabatiya. It was our first rainy night, and what with the tent pins giving way and the Syrian floods pouring down through the thin places of our tent roof and the high wind making the sides rattle terribly, we had an exciting night of it. Next morning we were off in the rain, striking right for the coast. About noon we saw the sea, and lunched on a hill that overlooks it, near the little village of Toosa. Then it cleared up, and our afternoon’s ride was glorious. We wound down the hill, crossed our old friend the Litâny near its mouth, and so saw the last of it, and then kept down the shore with Tyre right before us, reaching it in about three hours. It used to be an island, but Alexander built a causeway out to it, and the water has heaped up the sand on both sides of the isthmus till it is a broad-necked peninsula. It is the most ruined of ruins. An old church, once splendid, in which Origen and Frederick Barbarossa were buried, is the only, building they ever pretend to show and that you can hardly make out at all. Every-thing else is gone.
The seashore is lined with piles of splendid marble and granite columns, worn out of shape by the waters and half sunk in the sand. The place where Hiram lived in magnificence may have been this poor little house which we have hired to spend Sunday in. It has one big room through which the family of queer-looking people whom we have dispossessed circulate continually, and where we three sleep and eat while our cookery goes on in the yard outside. The whole island is only about three quarters by one half mile, and half of this now is utterly covered with rubbish. But the view is splendid to-day. On one side we look out upon the noble Mediterranean, and feel (at least I do) as if the stretch of waters established some sort of communication with home. On the other side stretches the long coast, with the hills of Lebanon skirting it, and old Hermon with his snowy top, the watch-tower of all this country, glistening in the sun beyond. Just round that point up the coast lies Sidon, the mother – city of this Tyre, and the little white mosque on the hill this side of it marks the place of Sarepta, the town where Elijah met the widow.
All our yesterday’s ride was through the coasts of Tyre and Sidon, and any spot our horses passed may have been the scene of Christ’s meeting with the Syropheenician woman. What city is like to Tyrus, to the destroyed in the midst of the sea.” Being the only Franks in town, we make some little sensation. All day the Star-Spangled Banner has been seen flying in our honor on the house of an old gentleman who acts here as our consular agent for the transaction of nobody knows what business, and this afternoon he sent us word that he would be glad to have us visit him. We went, of course, taking Ibrahim for interpreter, and were soon squatted on a divan around a room whose only other furniture was the rugs on the floor. Narghilehs and coffee were brought, and then we made civil speeches to each other, which were duly translated, and left with lots of salaams and wishes for eternal prosperity. Then our quarters have been besieged all day with natives small and large, male and female, bringing ” Antikers,” as they call them, rings, coins, seals, etc., dug up among the ruins, for us to buy at big prices. Fortunately Appleton is a coin collector, and so satisfies them for the party.
These last two weeks have been like a curious sort of dream ; all the old Bible story has seemed so strangely about us, the great flocks of sheep that we meet everywhere, wandering with their wild shepherds over the hills ; the lines of loaded camels that go laboring across the horizon ; the sowers in the field scattering their seed, half on the stony ground (it is almost paved with stones), and half among the great thorn bushes that grow up everywhere ; the little villages, half a dozen every day, with the people on the house-tops the wild men of the desert, who come suddenly in your way among the hills ; and the families with mules and asses, women and children, who seem to have no purpose in their traveling but just to fill up your picture for you. Far off to the east, from time to time the high hills, the hills of Bashan. (Think of being in the dominions of that old Og whom we have always read of in the Psalter.) Olive-trees, palms, fig-trees and pomegranates, all this, and Lebanon, Damascus, Hermon, Jordan, Caesarea, and Tyre ; it certainly makes a strange two weeks. The next two will be fuller still from here to Jerusalem. You shall hear of it.
I shall send this from Acre. I hope you will get these Eastern letters. Good-by now. God bless you all.