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of the Nile transported hither by the northern current in this part of the Mediterranean. It would lead us too far from our path and our purpose to discuss these theories. My own opinion is, that we need look no farther than this immediate neighborhood for the origin of this desert. The rock on the shore is a soft sandstone, which is continually disintegrating by the action of wind and wave. The loose sand is cast up upon the beach, and the strong southwest winds which blow across the plain aré constantly spreading it inward under our very eyes. No doubt the River Damûr,
which is just ahead of us, brings down a vast amount of sand during the winter rains, which are also thrown on shore by the sea. But enough of speculation. The fact is only too certain and too sad. This sand is continually driven in upon these gardens like another deluge. Entire mulberry orchards about Beirût, with all their trees and houses, have been thus overwhelmed since I came to the country; and the day is not distant when it will have swept over the whole cape to the bay on the north of the city, unless its course can be arrested. I never take this ride without watching, with weary sadness, this ever-changing desert. Upon the great sand-waves, which swell up from twenty to fifty feet high, the west wind wakes up small but well-defined wavelets, the counterpart in miniature of those on yonder noisy sea. Should these ripples be caught and fixed by some tranquillizing and indurating agency, we should here have a vast formation of as wavy sandstone as ever puzzled the student of earth's rocky mysteries.
These sandy invasions are not found to any injurious extent north of Beirût, but as you go south they become broader and more continuous. They spread far inland round the Bay of Acre. They begin again at Cesarea, and reach to the River 'Aujeh; and then south of Joppa, past Askelon and Gaza, they roll in their desolating waves wider and still wider, until they subside in the great desert that lies between Arabia and Africa. Let us ride up to the crest of that bold sand-wave, and take a farewell look at this prospect, so eminently Syrian. Ibrahim Pacha told the Emeer of Shwoifat that he had three different seas beneath his feet—the blue Mediterranean, this yellow Kŭllâbât, and the silvery sea of this olive Sabrâh. Though we may not admire the poetry of the pacha, we will the scene that inspired it. All he saw is before us; and with the noble Lebanon for background, receding and rising, range over range, up to where Sủnnîn leans his snowy head against the marble vault of heaven. Picturesque villages by the hundred sleep at his feet, cling to his side, hide in his bosom, or stand out in bold relief upon his ample shoulders, giving life and animation to the scene.
We will now rest and lunch at this khan Khủldeh. It has taken three hours to reach it. Though you have but little relish for rotten ruins, there is something hereabouts will surely interest you. This broken tower, crowning the top of a half-natural, half-artificial mound, the guide-books will tell you, is one of those telegraphic beacons which St. Helen built along the road from Jerusalem to Constantinople, to convey to her royal son the very first tidings of the discovery of the true cross, for which she was then ransacking the rubbish of the Holy City. You may accept that, or else suppose that it was one of a system of watch-towers for the defense of the coast, such as are still kept up along the shores of Spain and Algiers. The hill itself, however, speaks of remote antiquity. But by far the most remarkable relics of past ages are those sarcophagi on the side of the mountain. Their number is surprising, since for ages the inhabitants have been breaking them up for buildingstone, and burning them into lime, and still there are hundreds of them lying about on the face of the hill. They are of all sizes; some eight feet long, and in fair proportion, the resting-place of giants; others were made for small children. Many are hewn in the live rock; others are single coffins cut out of separate blocks. All had heavy lids, of various shapes, approaching to that of an American coffin, but with the corners raised. They are, no doubt, very ancient. Lift the lid, and the dust within differs not from the surrounding soil from which grows the corn of the current year. And so it was twenty centuries ago, I suppose. They are without inscriptions, and have nothing about them to determine their age or origin. Here is a cherub on one, with wings expanded; as if about to fly away to the “better land;" yonder is another with a palm branch, emblem of immortality; while that large one has three warlike figures, the chosen companions, perhaps, of some ancient hero. But on none of them is there a single mark or scratch which might indicate that those who made them had an alphabet. Who were they? Certainly neither Greeks nor Romans. I find no mention of this place, unless it be the Heldua, which, ac
cording to the Jerusalem Itinerary, was twelve miles south of Beirût. This distance, however, would take us to the next khan, Ghủfer en Naamy, and there was an ancient town near it. Mark Antony spent some time at a fort between Beirût and Sidon, called Dukekome, waiting for Cleopatra. Perhaps this tower-crowned hill marks the spot where these mighty revelers met and feasted. However that may be, we must now leave it. An hour's easy, or, rather, uneasy ride through the deep sand of the shore, will bring us to our tent on the green bank of the Damûr.
Here, on the brow of this rocky hill, we have the limekilns you spoke of, and men in the very act of breaking up sarcophagi to feed them. It is unpardonable sacrilege thus to destroy these venerable antiquities. It is outrageous Vandalism.
Instead of hurling anathemas at these barbarians, we had
better drop a tear of compassion over such ignorance, and then see if we can not draw some lesson of instruction from even these destructive kilns. You see an immense quantity of this low, matted thorn-bush collected around them. That is the fuel with which the lime is burned. And thus it was in the days of Isaiah. The people, says he, shall be as the burnings of lime: as thorns cut up shall they be burned in the fire. Those people among the rocks yonder are cutting up thorns with their mattocks and pruning-hooks, and gathering them into bundles to be burned in these burnings of lime. It is a curious fidelity to real life, that, when the thorns are merely to be destroyed, they are never cut up, but set on fire where they grow. They are only cut up for the lime-kiln.
And here is the Damûr, with our tent pitched among oleanders and willows—a picturesque position for our first encampment. Permit me to introduce you to the house of your pilgrimage. Salîm has placed your cot and luggage on the right, and mine on the left. We will pursue this arrangement hereafter, and thereby avoid much confusion.
It looks very inviting, and promises well for future comfort. This sojourning in tents, in the land where the patriarchs tabernacled so many centuries ago, not only takes my fancy captive, but is in beautiful unison with our object.
It is. A coach or car, with its bustle and hurry, would be intolerable here; and even a fussy, fashionable hotel would be a nuisance. Let us enjoy the luxury of liberty, and, while dinner is preparing, take a stroll at our leisure up this fine wady.
This name-Damûr-is it a mere variation of the Tamyras of Strabo, the Damura of Polybius?
Yes, if the variation is not that of the Greek and Roman. I suspect that Damûr is the true original. The main source of this river is near 'Ain Zehalteh, a village five hours to the east, under the lofty ridge of Lebanon. Other streams from the mountain farther north unite with this at Jisr el Kâdy, on the road from Beirût to Deir el Kamar. Below
Is. xxxiii. 12.