« PreviousContinue »
lle were not mistaken. The storm predicted is upon us in all its majesty, and we shall not get away from Sidon until it has spent its fury.
Contrary to all my previous ideas, I find your dimate extremely variable and uncertain. There seems to be no fixed time for the commencement of the winter rains, nor is it much more certain when they will cease.
That is quite true. I have seen these rains begin early in November and and in February ; but they are sometimes delayed until January, and prolonged into May. I was once held prisoner in a wretched khân on Lebanon for two days by a storm which commenced on the 6th of May. Fresh snow generally falls on the heights of Lebanon and Hermon in November, but I have crossed over Jebel es Sheikh late in December when there was none. It ordinarily disappears, except from sheltered ravines, early in April; and yet the mountain tops are sometimes covered with fresh snow late in Vay. These are, indeed, great variations, and they subject the farmer to much uncertainty and many losses. All kinds of crops, including silk, fail more frequently in Syria and Palestine than in America. This has always been the case ; and the failure is also more complete and rninous, and hence vie so often read in the Bible of sore famines in this country.
May not these facts give greater point and significancy to those agricultural promises (if one may employ such language) in which regularity in the rains and certainty in the crops were guaranteed to Israel on condition of faithful obedience ?
No doubt ; and it is worthy of remark that to this day the people of every class, faith, and character familiarly and constantly ascribe regular and abundant rains, fruitful seasons, and good harvests to the direct agency and interposition of God. This formal and devout recognition strikes a stranger froin America as indicating a high degree of pious sentiment; but he soon perceives that it is merely the stereotypel idiom of daily conversation, and has very little connection with the heart. Still, this style of remark has its origin in a deep
Sense of dependence on God of
sense of uncertainty, and of entire dependence for their daily bread upon the curTER showers of heaven, delayed nearly every year until much painful solicitude is felt by all classes. Very often there is a universal cry, from man, beast, and bird, and burning sky, and drooping fields, ere the Lord hears the heavens, and they bear the earth, and the earth hears the corn, and the wine, and the oil. I have seen several instances in which Moslems, Christians, and Jews have united in fasts, processions, and prayers in the open air, for the showers that water the earth. On one occasion, the pasha, attended by all the principal men of Beirût, went forth in procession, and, among other acts, the great man held the plough with his own hands, as a public acknowledgment of dependence upon the fruits of the field, and the blessing of the Lord upon the labour
of the ox.
There is no occasion for such ceremonies at present. How long may this wild storm last?
To judge from ordinary indications, it may continue ten days at least, possibly twenty.
Indeed! And what may those indications be?
It is not easy to give a tangible shape to some of them, which yet have much Great to do in producing the impression on the mind of one initiated, by long experience, into the mysteries of Syrian weather. In the first place, we must not forget that this is the time for heavy storms, especially if the season has been hitherto warm and dry, as this has been. Great rains are now needed to start the fountains and saturate the earth to the deepest roots of the trees. Without this no season can be truly prosperous in this country, because a large part of the produce is gathered from the olive, the mulberry, the fig, the walnut, the apricot, the orange, and other fruit and nut-bearing trees. Long rains are therefore in season, and to be expected. Then this storm has obviously been gathering for several days past, and its duration generally corresponds to the time spent in coming on. Again, the wind is full and strong from the proper rain quarter-the south-west-and while it holds to that point the storm will continue. It will not clear until the wind shifts round toward the north, which it is often slow to do, and will not now till the air becomes colder, and Lebanon is covered deep with snow. As in ancient times, the west wind Rainy brings rain, and the north drives it away. There is also a somewhat in the winds thickness and colour of the clouds which speaks to the eye of experience: and see how low they fly, tearing their garments to tatters on the rocky crags of Jebel Rehân, and trailing their soiled skirts in the mire.
There will be no fair weather until they sail clear of the loftiest peaks of Lebanon. The sea, too, by its hoarse and heavy roar, warns the mariner to lower his topmasts, double his anchors, and make all tight for a long and hard gale; and even those stupid gulls, careering on the blast far inland, add their testimony to the general voice of nature. Depend upou it, we are in for a
genuine winter storm, and may congratulate ourselves on having reached this Solace for sing harbour before it began. Nor need the time pass illy away. Ilere are travellers. books to consult; and friends, both Frank and native, from whom you can
glean many a valuable hint for future use; so “wrap the garment of patience around you," and let it rain. There will be intermissions, however (for no storm in this country is without them), during which we may run about the city and its environs; and in the evenings we shall have reunions of friends, in which all sorts of subjects are discussed. You will thus be in a fine schcol of manners-Oriental I mean, and may learn more of the customs and ways of the people in these few days than by months of mere travel through the land.
According to this account, Paul's euroclydon of fourteen days was no very extraordinary occurrence.
Not as to the length of the storm, certainly; nor do I understand the historian to intimate that there was anything miraculous about it. It was ove, however, of extreme violence: “Neither sun nor stars appeared in many days, and all hope of being saved was taken away.” And yet we are not to suppose
that there were no intermissions in this tempest, any more than that the Faoting people literally tarried fourteen days fasting, without taking anything. Such
expressions never deceive or disturb an Oriental. They do not mean absolutely nothing. In oui medical practice, it is almost impossible to arrive at acellracy in regard to what a patient has eaten. Both he and his friends will assure youl, in the most comprehensive terms, that he has "continued fasting, having caten nothing ;” and yet, by close questioning, you find that he has loaded his stomach with trash higlily injurious to him. When pressed on the point, he will merely say, “ It does not deserve to be mentioned.” You may take this as a general canon of interpretation, that any amount much less than usual means “nothing" in their dialect ; and if you understand more by it, you are misled. In fact, their ordinary fasting is only abstaining from certain kinds of food, not from all, nor does the word convey any other idea to them.
In regard to Paul's curvclydon : it is no uncommon thing to encounter clydun. similar storms at this day, in the same part of the Mediterranean. I have
followed nearly the exact route of his disastrous voyage, and, as our noble steamer sailed in between Catzo and Candia-the Crete of the Acts-- we were met by a tremendous wind, which tried the utmost power of her engines. Slowly and laboriously she ploughed her foaming furrow through the troubled sei, close under Crete, for twenty-four hours, and then ran into the harbour of
Acts xxvii. 11, 20.
Suda, which we found as quiet as a mill-pond; and, unlike Paul's Fair Havens, CHAPTER it would be quite commodious for the entire British navy to winter in. Here we remained a “night and a day;" but, as the wind did not moderate, the captain became impatient, and sailed out in the very teeth of the gale. For a long time we made very little progress, and, as we ran under a certain island that was called Clauda, I could well understand that such a vessel as that "ship of Alexandria” must have been exceedingly tossed with the tempest. However, by the aid of steam, we were carried in four, instead of fourteen days, to that “certain island called Melita,” and into the glorious harbour of Valetta, instead of being wrecked at the entrance of St. Paul's Bay. And though we were also laden with wheat, we were not obliged to cast it into the sea to “lighten the ship.” I shall never forget the impressions of that voyage over the seas of Cilicia and Pamphylia, and across the “Adria,” where Paul was driven up and down for fourteen days.
I no longer wonder that the people of this country believe in jan, and Ghosts. ghools, and all the exaggerated machinery of the Thousand Nights. About one o'clock I was startled out of profound sleep by the most frightful noise I
ever heard. It seemed to come from this grave-yard on the east of your house, and to be very near. What on earth could have produced it?
It was nothing but a concert of jackals. You may be serenaded by them every night, but they are particularly musical in the fiercest storms.
Deliver me from their music. I was terrified. It began in a sort of solo : of jackills. a low, long-drawn Wail, rising, and swelling higher and higher, until it quite
over-topped the wind; and just when it was about to choke off in utter despair, it was reinforced by many others, yelling, screaming, barking, wailing, as if a whole legion of demons were fighting among the tombs over some son of perdition that had fallen into their clutches.
Why, you have been positively startled out of all propriety by these creatures; but no wonder. What a doom is that which David pronounces upon those who seek the soul of the righteous to destroy it: “They shall fall by the sword; they shall be a portion for foxes;”] by which jackals are meant, as I Suppose. These sinister, guilty, woe-begone brutes, when pressed with hunger, gather in gangs among the graves, and yell in rage, and fight like fiends over their midnight orgies ; but on the battle-field is their great carnival. Oh ! let me never even dream that any one dear to me has fallen by the sword, and lies there to be tur!, and gnawed at, and dragged about by these hideous Dowlers. I have been wanting to send Salim down town on an errand, but he has
been pounding at something most zealously all the morning. What is he after?
He is braying wheat with a pestle in a mortar, and pestle.
to make kibby, the national dish of the Arabs, and a very good one it is. Every family has one or more of these large stone mortars, and you
may hear the sound of the “braying" at all hours as you walk the streets of the city.
So I suppose Solomon means that, if we pound a fool in a mortar, among wheat, with il pestle, into a batch of kibby, yet will not liis foolishness depart from him.?
At any rate, there is nothing else in the country so likely to suggest the proverb); and il foolishness will not depart under such discipline, the case is indeed hopeless. But our boy is braying fish, not a fcol, and we shall therefore have kibbet samak, which many people are extremely fond of. It is more commonly made of mutton, mixed with fat from the large tail of the sheep. When thoroughly pounded, it is sent to the oven, and baked in a copper dish made for the purpose. It will keep good in winter for half a month, and makes a capital lunch for the road.
While on the subject of cooking, take another favourite dish of the Arabs. Seething a They select a yomg kid, fat and tender, dress it carefully, and then stew it in
milk, generally sour, mixed with onions and hot spices such as they relish, They call it Leon immû 'kid in his mother's milk.” The Jews, however,
MORTAR AND PESTLE.