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A REPAST AL FRESCO.
found darkness. Having seen what is most remarkable, I thought it prudent to give the order for our return. But when, on emerging from the vast cave, I saw at my feet those frightful precipices when I surveyed the scarped rocks opposite to me, on one of which I should have to spring, I was for a moment motionless with stupor, and seriously reproached myself for my indiscretion. Fortunately, my guardian angel was at hand : assisted by a Spanish lay-brother, not less courageous than kind, I took the leap, and arrived, without accident, but not without great labour, at the place where we had left our horses.
Our caravan had increased by the way : here and there we had been joined by parties of Bethlehemites, so that we now amounted to nearly forty persons. We had taken care to provide ourselves with refreshments. Seated on the rocks, we took a light repast, that we might continue our excursion with the more vigour. Nothing could be more picturesque than the scene presented by this collation; I would have given any thing to take a sketch of it, but I had neither paper nor pencil. ..... We were on the slope of an abyss, surrounded by rocks whose tops seemed to touch the sky. Confined within a very narrow space, we prudently held our horses by the bridle. Whenever I put a morsel of bread into my mouth, my mare neighed and pawed the ground till I had shared it with her. At the conclusion of the repast, at a moment when my thoughts were wholly engrossed by the singularity of the sight presented by the assemblage of our associates amidst the dangers that surrounded us, what was my surprise to see my drago
HILL OF THE FRENCH.
man bringing me some excellent coffee, in a very handsome cup. By a refinement of attention, he had prepared it so secretly that I had not perceived either fire or smoke. Coffee is here an article of the first necessity, and this I already knew from my own experience; but could I ever have supposed that I should drink it in such a place? The collation over, we resumed our march.
Meanwhile, the Bedouins, whom we believed to be at a great distance, had not yet been so near to us as now. They were concealed behind rocks: we perceived now and then the point of a lance, or a turban popping out and immediately drawn back again. An attack on their part appeared to me inevitable; I dreaded it the more, since, being obliged to go one by one, leading our horses by the bridle, we had but few means of defence. They probably discovered that they should have to do not with Bethlehemites alone, but also with Europeans; and, judging their strength inadequate, they suffered us to pass unmolested.
After a march of two hours, we arrived at the Hill of the French. The approach to this hill is extremely toilsome : no trace of a road, nothing but stones and rocks. When half-way up, my companions made me remark that, from this point, the hill was a work of art, and had been raised by the hand of man. Dr. Clarke, a celebrated English traveller, asserts that it resembles Vesuvius, and that it has a crater, which, according to his account, is distinctly visible. It is true that he saw it only from a distance. We have, nevertheless, a right to be surprised at such a mistake in a man of his merit.
From the top, the view is magnificent, enchanting.
HILL OF THE FRENCH.
The Dead Sea, though several leagues distant, appears to lie at your feet. Behind rise the mountains of Arabia Petræa, that vast grave of an ungrateful people; and Nebo, which God commanded the leader of the Hebrews to ascend, and whence he showed him the whole country on either side of the Jordan, saying: “Behold the land of Canaan, which I give unto the children of Israel for a possession ... thou shalt see the land before thee, but thou shalt not go thither." You know why. On the right are discerned the mountains of Hebron, where is still shown the tomb of the patriarch of Chaldea, the father of the faithful, those of Engadi, the heights of Bethulia, &c.
We got back very late, wet with a heavy shower, which overtook us by the way.
Farewell, my dear friend; according to all appear. ance, my next letter will be dated from Jerusalem. I am also bidding farewell to Bethlehem; but I hope, by the blessing of God, not for the last time.
Once more, adieu !
DEARTH - PALESTINE — JerUSALEM -- SIEGE BY TITUS-CONVERSION
op CONSTANTINE - JULIAN, THE APOSTATE— The Caliph OMAR I.CRUSADES — TAKING OF JERUSALEM - CARNAGE — SALADIN.
Jerusalem, January 30th, 1832. Here I am again at Jerusalem, my dear friend, after an absence of three weeks. It was not without keen regret, and without promising myself to repeat my visit, that I left that dear Bethlehem, where I have passed
DEARTH IN PALESTINE.
such happy moments. A few days before my departure,
, a cruel dearth began to be felt there : the distress became extreme, and the immense charities of the monasteries became inadequate to relieve it. I was myself overwhelmed with the applications of the Bethlehemites, who were in want of bread, and sorely grieved at the state of their families.
Here the calamity is felt even yet more severely: it extends, as it seems, over all Palestine. In the memory of man, provisions have not been so scarce and so dear. The supplies which the pacha of Acre, who had long foreseen the siege of his capital, was obliged to collect, have singularly contributed to this famine. On the other hand, the army of Egypt, which is now blockading that fortress and inundating the country, runs away with all the rest of the produce of an unfortunately sterile year. The distress is at its height. You meet every where persons with pale, emaciated faces, scarcely covered with rags, who stop you at every step, holding forth to you a lean and shrivelled hand. Little children, weeping, ask their parents for bread; and they, dying themselves of hunger, can only answer them by sighs and tears. This sad and incessant sight rends the heart, and fills it with dismay. The monastery does what it can; it distributes as many as fifteen hundred loaves
Yesterday afternoon I rode out in the direction of the monastery of Elijah. I had, in the morning, taken a rather long and very fatiguing excursion on foot : the heat was excessive. I had just peeled an orange to quench my thirst. All at once I heard cries behind me;
DEARTH IN PALESTINE.
I stopped and looked round... Two young Arab women, one of whom had a child at her back, were warmly wrangling about the rind of the orange which I had
Recollecting at that moment how much money I had formerly squandered in the world, in silly and useless expences; ah! how guilty did I then appear in my own eyes! My blood curdled as I thought of the immense number of distressed persons whom I might have relieved in those days of painful remembrance, when I wearied myself in the pursuit of a false felicity — when I called that happiness, which now I consider as the worst of evils ! I turned back; I gave and I said to the poor creatures what I could to cheer them; and, with my eyes turned towards Golgotha, I rode back to Jerusalem, smiting my bosom, more convinced than ever that true happiness consists in imitating the charity of the Saviour, and going about upon earth doing good, like our Jesus.
I now calculate upon staying at the monastery of St. Saviour till Sunday in the Passion week, and then shutting myself up till after Easter in the church of the Holy Sepulchre. I shall continue, as I have already begun, my visits to the interior and to the environs of Jerusalem, wishing to see in the utmost detail all that is remarkable about places or monuments. Unfortunately, it is impossible for the moment to venture so far as the Jordan, the Dead Sea, the monastery of St. Saba, &c. The Arabs, pressed by the famine which afflicts the country, riot, plunder, and murder more than ever; it would be dangerous to trust one's self upon the high