Symud i'r prif gynnwys
Cuddio Rhestr Erthyglau

30 erthygl ar y dudalen hon

LAND OF FIRST I < CHRISTMAS.

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Dyfynnu
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LAND OF FIRST I < CHRISTMAS. Scene of Welsh. Triumph. ("1" Ar By Hubert. St. John. ,I ft* V In Moneo which is a stony 4nountry-in more senses than oiie-it is said that at the beginning of all things the Creator was, passing over the world distributing stones from a huge bag, and when immediately over Montenegro the h^g hurst, and that country re- ceived tlile lot. If thaw story were founded, iti/, fact I would say that there had been rival fifiri: travelling in the ,;am« .^miuftdfcty,' in the Bast, and that they met witjk 81 like fate when over Pales- tine. Soon Vftter my arrival at this front an officer 'who had already spent over two years in the East asked me what impressed \no most. 1 was obliged to confess it was the stones." There are gigantic rocks, big stones and little atones everywhere ne goes in the hills specially in thooe prts eo frequently re- ferred to in the Holy Writ. In otder to use thv land of its best advantages. the natives oollect the stones on the.hillsides and .fonn a series of ter- races, following the coatoiirs as closely as possible. The tal "aces are sup- ported by dry walls of the loose stones, and by this means they have long nar- row stretches of land in which they plant their vino, olive or ifig trees, ac- cording to taste or suitability of the climate. The grapes grown are or a small variety, from which tlie Palestine wine is made. The figs are ailsu, except in certain parts, rather smalll, as also areAhe olives, which grow to about half the%ize of our table variety. I have been told on more than' one occasion that some of the natives make an equiva- lent to t8 a year out of each tree. It is also said that if the olives are picked off instead of beaten., it is possible to obtain two crops a year. But the .Syrian mnone too energetic a. person and comes along armed with a long stick and much matting the latter he spreads under the tree and then, with his stick swarms up the branches and proceeds to knock 011 the fruit, which ir, afterwards collected into baskets and taken home. Thtp proud proprietors of fig groves- or rather their hirelings—appear to pick the fruit when nearly ripe and lay- it out on the earth to be sun-dried. What they do with it afterwards I can- not say, but in some parts it must fornr tlioir staple food for the rest of the year." These same hirelings, and in some cases the owners build themselves small shelters or caves of stone, at convenient spots, wherein they dwell as watch dogs, to guard the growing fruit against their neighbours who, in spite of living on Holy ground, are not yet acquainted with the command: "Thou snalt not covet thy neighbour's goods." Palestine looks its best shortly after sunrise. At that time one is able to appreciate that subtle colouring which only the East can produce. It is not liearty so marked here. as in Egypt, but the early mcrrning sky has much tho sum r delightful, transparent blue, and forms a pleasing contrast to the vivid green of the fig trees and the reddish foil of the hills; even the stones look Jdss monotonous at that hour. I have often stood on a commanding position hear, Tel Asur when the glorious red sun crept over the eastern hills, and watched stir of life on the hill-sides and on the j^lain below. All the, trans- port men busy with their grooming, and those most energetic people, the cooks, sending Up their first puffs of smoke from nearly kindled fires; then would comt* sappers, infantrymen 'and the ¡ iptii^r footslogger* "—out for their «|rly drill, and unnecessarily raising, f their already enormous appetite for breakfast. Presently along every rough track- or roadway would flow a continu- ous stream of horseflesh; "the worthy animals with their less aristocratic relatives, the mules—now all spick and f..pan, plodding along at, merry pace to- wards the watering place, there to jy.vait their turn for the first of their three daily drinks. Later in the day one would see long convoys of camels. 4 one behind the other as far as the eye could reach, tarrying water or foodstuffs. There would sometimes be as many as three thousand in this silent pr<$cession, .1 with half as many dark, skinned sons of the Sudan, in their picturesque blue attire. These fellows always brought a splash of colour to the most sombre surroundings.. The country itself, apart from the l extensive plains on the coastline con- sists of a series of hills, v.alleys and "wadis" (dry water courses). Travel-' ling is dfficnlt at the best of times be- cause of the broken character of the' ground. The path is usually so steep that it is either too dangerous or too uncomfortable" to ride at more than a w-n Iking pace. Light cars and lorries are able to get along fairly well, and in doing so smother less fortunate people with some of the dust that lies several inches-thick on the stony road. Here and there one comes across a Christian P-r Mohammedan village usually perched on the hill-top. The houses are mostly one-storeyed affairs, with stfeps leading to the flat roofs; or—in the more- prosperous, villages—they may be two storeyed- The smallest houses, some- times with only one room, are square buildings with stone, domed roofs and usually present a very grimy appear- ance since they have no chimneys, and the smoke from any fire that may be lighted inside issues forth by way of the door and the unglazed, barred windows. They are squalid hovels and remind one of the prison cells of half-civihaed countries. il The wad is. to which previous refer- ence has been made, form very con- venient roads in dry weather, but dur- ing the wet season they are trans, formed into rushing torrents which are often too deep and swift to be forded with safety. In may places the British, «iigineors have ,constructed concrete bridges ill order that certain much used tracks might be kept open all the yeat round. This is. only one of the many improvements which the war has intro- duced into this God-forsaken country. The natives are, for the most part, very ragged and seemingly revel in filth. Their habitations are always teeming with flifes, and their health suffers an- luordingly. Eye-trouble is especially prevalent in his oountry, and the Ojxjjtlialfliic Hospital of the Order of ,,$.t;. J.nn hns done yeoman service in the relief of suffering caused by this "disease." Patients are treated irre- spective of class or creed, and more than one British doctor has given his life in this splendid cause. ■ Most people are anxious to know Hfynething of the appearance of Jerusa- lem, but it is difficult for anyone un- I acquainted with the East to picture aurti, a place as this. The old city is enclosed by-a wall feet high, hav- ing one of which has been willed tit) for many hundreds of years, The streets we narrow, badly paved and .1 dirty; many of them are vaulted. over and successfully defy the sun's entrance. Air there" are always squalid dwellings and booths opening on to these d j alleys of disease, they are usually very tjfyiilK to anyone with even an ordinary neof smell, and if one is obliged to pass along one of the old streets it; is with ? thankful heart tbr.t one returns to the sunhght. In these th 'Ir g'hl? fares are To be found the vendor of aH the npc^ities of life in Jerusalem. T", --i be the bread shop, swarming I with flies, the fruit and vegetables stalls, with perhaps a slipper chop next door, and"acroas the way, the tinker's booth with its variety of strangely shaped pots and. pans It would, doubtless, be a heroic act to describe the city in detail, jfiving the multitude of mosques, temples, churches, sepulchres (spurious and otherwise. their due, but as Baedeker takes nearly will' pages to perform the task, it will not he attempted here. But I cannot pass on without recounting an afternoon's experience off the beaten track. I had been to the Mount of Olives, and on towards the German Hospice, where one can catch a glimpse of the Dead Sea. and was returning to the St. John's Hospital by way of the Tomb of Absalom and the Jewish burial I grounds, when I reached what subse- quently turned out to be the village of Kafr Silwan, or Siloah. The steep hillside was covered with rock tombs, centuries old. which were used as dwell. ings or stables. Of signs of civilization there were none. There was not a single direct track through the labyrinth in which I found myself, and I was met on all sides by the filthiest and most ill-clad specimens of humanity it has ever been my misfortune to see They crawled out of their caves and mounted the roofs to watch my progress, and looked contentedly on while their large dogs—savage looking As wolves— rushed after me, their teeth bared and hair standing on end. In after days I consulted my guide book about this spot and fOttnd that the inhabitants of Silwan, who are aU Moslems/ are notorious for their thievish propen- sities." Leaving the Fountan of the Virgin, (where Solomon was annointed, 1 Kings, 1-38) on my right I came to the pool of Siloam, also in the Valley of Jvkfroa; and avoiding the lepers' colony and passing through the valley of Hintiom, I came to the Ophthalmic Hospital of the Order of St "J uhn of Jerusalem. The building had been used as a magazine by the Turks, and an ex- plosion had done considerable damage. Ono cannot close an account of Palestine, however short, without at least a. reference to BetMehem..The little town lies about 5 miles to the South of Jerusalem and has a present population of about 11,006, nearly all of whom are Christians. It was famous in ancient history as the home of the family of David, but it did not become a ?lace of any size until the, Christian pelio There are naturally, many si ?b dis, sticii as the Church of the Nabvity, built on the traditional birth- place of Christ," the Field of the Shep- herds, where the angels are supposed to have appeared to the shepherds, and other plat-ee associated with s-e,ripttiral' northern of Bethlehem "has alleys- been noted for its fertility, and the careful cultivation of the soil presents a pleas- ing contrast to the barren environs of Jerusalem It is doubtful if the people in the- parts have changed much, since the Bib Akal times, in customs or dress, and their mode of life must have been the same for countless centuries. As a typical i ex- ample of Syrian respect towards the womenkind, I record the following inci- dent. A farmer and his spouse had been ,V() hins(;¥t!. liIt. the <&Mi ? ?he'?uKf ?iB?U''aonkey? -Tl?pio? consisted of "A rough T)iecc ?tim?r, about six feet long and sttghtty curved, with an irregular, 80mewhat Y" shaped ex- tremity, which made it look something like aU wishbone n, with one side broken off short. The day's toil being over, the farmer picked up the plough, placed it across his wife's shoulder, and. then mounted the donkey and rode merrily homeward, leaving his lerser half to fol- low with his primitive implement of a?ricaRure. It's a way they have in the Eást t" v, —;

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