« PreviousContinue »
eye,” are found in other lands, and graze on other hearts besides those of Persian poets. The sacred writers frequently mention gazelles under the various names of harts, roes, and hinds. They are celebrated for their activity. Thus Jacob says of Naphtali, He is a hind let loose, and his mountains abound in gazelles to this day. Asahel was light of foot as a wild roe.? And David sings, He maketh my feet like hind's feet, and setteth me upon my high
places. I have often stopped to admire the grace, and ease, and fearless security with which these pretty animals bound along the high places of the mountains. They are amiable, affectionate, and loving, by universal testimony; and accordingly Solomon says, Let her—the wife of thy youth—be as the loving hind and pleasant roe;4 and no
i Gen. xlix. 21.
2 2 Sam. ii. 18.
GAZELLES - THE KASIMIEH.
sweeter comparison can be found. It is implied in Jeremiah xiv. 5 that the hind is particularly fond of her young, for the prophet illustrates the severity of the threatened dearth and famine by declaring that the very hinds forsook their young in the field, because there was no grass.
David compares his longing for the living God to the panting of the hart for the water-brooks. I have seen large flocks of these panting harts gather round the water-brooks in the great deserts of Central Syria, so subdued by thirst that you could approach quite near them before they fled. But here. we are on the banks of the Kāsimîeh, and yonder, at the foot of the bridge, our lunch awaits us. This bridge, which now springs quite across the river by one bold and lofty arch, is not old, for Maundrell, in 1696, found the ancient one broken down, and he and his party had great difficulty in crossing, and so should we without a bridge.
So I should judge, for it is the largest river I have seen in this country, and appears to be full to the brim. You call it Kāsimieh? It is the ancient Leontes, and its present name, except just
1 Ps. xlii. 1, 2.
at this place, is Litany, apparently a corruption of the Latinor perhaps that is merely a Latinized form of Litany. It is by far the largest stream that empties into the head of this sea, except the Orontes. Both these rise in the great plain of Coele-Syria, and close together. The Orontes flows north, the latter south and southwest. The watershed of the valley between the two Lebanons is somewhere about Lebweh, but the farthest permanent source of the Litany is the copious 'Ain es Sultan at Baalbek. Even this is entirely used up during the season of irrigation, and not a drop of its water reaches the sea. Numerous fountains, however, rise out of the centre of the plain, and being joined, first by the strong stream of Zahleh, and afterward by the much larger one from 'Anjur (Ain Jur), the united river meanders through the lower Bŭk'ah in a southwestern direction, some fifteen miles, to Jûb Jennîn. Below that it flows in a constantly narrowing vale for six or seven miles, to Jisr Kŭráone. Not far from this bridge its volume is increased by the stream from the noble fountains of Mushgharah. From this onward the Litany is engaged in a furious struggle with Lebanon for a passage to the sea. It has cut out for itself a narrow groove in the solid strata so deep that no one at a little distance aside from it would suspect that a powerful river rushed between him and the opposite rocks. Yet there it is at the bottom of the chasm, all in a foam of vexation, leaping, darting, roaring along. Now it whirls round the jutting base of some mighty cliff so sharply that you are sure it bursts from the rock itself. Below, it runs madly against another towering wall, from which you see no escape; but it does, and, darting along the base at a terrific rate, launches its whole force against a similar barrier, only to recoil in shattered fragments, and shoot like an arrow down some secret pathway, quite hidden by overhanging rocks and interlacing sycamores. After about ten miles of this work, it does, in reality, come forth from the dark mouth of the mountain. At a place called Kûweh-window-it has tunneled through a rock more than ninety feet thick, and comes out quietly at the bottom of this solemn
chasm. Not long to rest, however, for immediately afterward it springs madly down among large boulders, reduced in width to half a dozen feet, but of depth unknown. The road passes over this natural bridge from Wady et Teim to Nihah, on Lebanon. Some six or eight miles farther south, the road from Jezzin to Hasbeiya crosses at Jisr Bârgûs, and there the traveler has a fine specimen of our river and its behavior among the rocks. But you must look upon it from the cliffs of Blat, some five miles below, where it is
eight hundred feet beneath you, tearing at the very roots of Lebanon, and rasping out a passage for itself with mighty din and desperate haste. I have sat for hours in a sort of dreamy ecstasy, gazing into this chasm—have let myself down from crag to crag until I stood all alone at the bottom-have reclined midway up its walls upon some projecting shelf, and watched, now the timid conies creep out and sun themselves, and now the bold eagles going and returning to their eyries in the cliffs. There are thousands of them, and their manoeuvres, particularly when coming home, are very entertaining. There comes a pair of them, just visible in the blue depths of heaven. See how they sail round and round, in ever-narrowing gyrations, as Milton's Prince of Darkness,
“Down from the ecliptic Threw his steep flight in many an aery wheel.” And now, right over the chasm, they poise themselves a
moment; then, like a bolt from the clear sky, down, down they come, head foremost, with wings collapsed; sinking far below their eyrie, they round to in a grand parabola, and then, with two or three backward flaps of their huge pinions to check their fall, like the wheels of a steam-boat reversed, they land in safety among their clamorous children.