רוב רוי על הירדן – Harper's Magazine 1869

ג'והן מקגריגור היה הרפתקן סקוטי אשר סייר בעולם עם הקאנו שלו (ה"רוב רוי") וצלח נהרות מפורסמים.

ב-1868-9 ערך מקגריגור מסע של חצי שנה ממקורות הירדן, דרך אגם החולה, הכנרת, הירדן ועד לים המלח.

על מנת לממן את מסעותיו פרסם מקגריגור את סיפוריו בקצרה במגזינים ולאחר מכן היה יוצא הסיפור בהרחבה בספר שלם מלווה בתיאורי מסע ואיורים.

המאמר כאן פורסם ב-Harper's New Monthly Magazine מגזין אמריקאי וותיק אשר היווה במה מכובדת לסיפורי מסע רבים ולקוח מספר השנה של המגזין מ-1870 ונותן סקירה על מסעו המלא של מקגריגור ממצרים ועד ארץ ישראל כ"קדימון" לספר.

לעיון במאמר במלואו:

הטקסט המלא של המאמר:

מצורף הטקסט המלא לפי עמודים, תשומת לבכם כי בהמרת החוברת לטקסט עדיין יכול ונפלו טעויות וככל שתמצאו כאלו נשמח אם תיידעו אותנו ונתקן.

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THE ROB ROY ON THE JORDAN*

IN this Magazine! have been given accounts of three notable voyages performed in the canoe Rob Roy by Mr. Macgregor. He now gives an account of a new trip in the Rob Roy, mainly through waters hallowed by sacred asso- ciations. We follow Mr. Macgregor in styling the boat in which these voyages were made as “the Rob Roy;” although, in fact, each was performed in a different canoe, built expressly for the work which it was designed to perform, the leading idea in all being to furnish the greatest amount of accommodation in the least possible space, and with the least possible weight.

, The canoe Rob Roy Number Four was to traverse waters where no dwellings were to be found on shore; the crew (that is, Mr. Mac- gregor) must, if need were, sleep on board the craft; arid so something had to be sacrificed in order to furnish a commodious cabin. Mr. Macgregor we judge to be a muscular Christian of about six feet in height, with shoulders and hips corresponding. He laid himself flat on his back, and had himself measured for his ca- noe. Men are measured for garments and for coffins; but this is the first time where we have heard of a man’s being measured for a boat. This Rob Roy was a good fit for Mr. Macgreg­or, and is probably the smallest boat ever built which a man could make his home, sailing in it long and far, and sleeping on board comfort- ably. It is fourteen feet long, two feet two inches wide, and

a foot deep, built of oak, with a cedar deck. Including mast (for which the lower joints of a fishing-pole were used), sails, and paddle, the weight is seventy-two pounds. About half the deck is cut away, leaving a “well” in which the “crew” sits while rowing or sailing. To fit up the “ cabin” at night, two bits of wood are set up at the fore-part of the well, and connected at the tops by a cross-piece of bamboo. Upon this cross-piece the paddle is laid, one end resting upon the stern. Three feet of the deck consist of movable boards; these are taken up, laid upon the paddle, and form the roof; over all is thrown a light water- proof cloth, and the cabin is complete.

The fitting-up is simple. “The pillow,” says Mr. Macgregor, “is, of course, our clothes- bag, and for a bed there is an air-cushion three feet long and fourteen inches broad, with ribs across it, so made that it will not collapse. This bed is particularly comfortable, and, be- sides, answers for several other purposes. Its diminutive size has been ridiculed; but if you will try you will find that when the hips and shoulders are supported the rest of the body needs no support at all, except the head, which has a pillow, and the heels, which can rest on a roll of the top-sail.” Some of the “other purposes” served by the bed are thus described: “When traveling under a hot sun I place this bed behind me, with one end on deck, and the

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* The Rob Roy on the Jordan, Rile, Red Sea, and Gen- nesareth, etc.: a Canoe Cruise in Palestine and Egypt, and the Waters of Damascus. With Maps and Illus- trations. By J. Macgregor, M. A. Harper and Broth- ers.

+ Cruiee of the Rob Roy through Central Europe : Oc- tober, 1S66.—The Rob Roy in the Baltic: September,

  1. The Voyage Alone in the English Channel: May;

1868.

Vol. XLI.—No. 241.—4

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middle of it is tied around my breast, so as to bring the upper end just under the long back leaf of my sun-helmet. It thus becomes an excellent protector against sun-stroke, especial- ly when my course was toward the north, and my back was thus turned to the sun. Often I went ashore with the bed still dangling from my waist behind, ־while the wondering natives gazed at the 1 Giaour’ with his air-bag tail. The bed was useful, too, when I sat upon wet sand or grass or gravel; and it was always a good life-buoy in case of an upset.”

On the 30th of October, 1868, the Rob Roy was landed from the steamer at Port Said, then a town of bustling wooden shanties which had sprung up from the sand at the mouth of the Suez Canal. Mr. Macgregor’s first purpose was to explore this canal, then to paddle upon the Red Sea and the Nile, and afterward to try the Syrian lakes and rivers.

We pass briefly over the six weeks spent in Egypt. Eor twenty-five miles the canal is ex- cavated through the shallow lake Menzaleh. The narrow sand-bank which separates the lake from the Mediterranean had not yet been cut through, and the Rob Roy was hauled across, and launched upon the motionless waters of the lake. It soon got entangled among the mud- banks; and the sharp little ragamuffins of an Arab village came scampering down in hopes of “backshish.” They wallowed in the mud- dy water, their little round heads—looking like smooth cocoa-nuts, with only a single hair-lock left on the top of the shaven crown, by which lock, according to Mohammedan belief, the Prophet will drag them into Paradise—bobbing above the surface. They made themselves quite disagreeably familiar, and the canoe stood a fair chance of being overset. But

Mr. Macgregor understands how to manage boys. Selecting the stoutest and noisiest of the crowd, he hired him as “policeman,” paying him a month’s wages in advance. This advance was but a penny, and for this the lad made the others drag the canoe, with all the crew aboard, a long way through the shallows. This they did cheer- fully, evidently thinking it a “jolly lark,” how- ever that may be expressed in Arabic. It is to be hoped that the penny was fairly divided among the crowd; though how they could have car- ried it is doubtful, since there could be no pock- ets in the suit of black mud which constituted their sole garment. This same difficulty after- ward came under Mr. Macgregor’s observation near Damascus. He gave a penny to a naked urchin, who held it a moment in his hand, and then requested the donor to put it by for him until he had finished his sports.

The waters of the canal being perfectly still, and each kilometer marked, gave Mr. Mac- gregor an opportunity to measure accurately his rate of paddling. He found that he could make a hundred double strokes, right and left, in five minutes, and that these would propel the canoe 542 yards, being at the rate of not quite four miles an hour, and that he could easily keep it up for eight hours out of the twenty-four.

At night, while passing through the shallow lagoons, the canoe was drawn up on the sand, and worked back and forth until it rested firm- ly, when the cabin was set up, and the voyager retired to rest. The loneliest spot was always chosen for this purpose, and a visitor seldom appeared. Once, however, on Lake Timneh, one came. He proved to be a jackall, who had probably been attracted by the smell of the sup- per which Mr. Macgregor was cooking by means

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of his lamp. Flamingoes abound in these la- goons; and a comical sight was the manner in which they managed to take flight when dis- turbed by the canoe. Up one springs from the ooze in which he had been wading, his long legs dangling upon the surface of the water, upon which he walks, while his wings are strug- gling in the air, and his neck is stretched out in front. It is only after a long and doubtful scramble between earth, water, and air that the scrimp little body, with its pretty pink wings, can finally manage to carry off the long legs and snake-like neck.

Mr. Macgregor’s anticipations of the success of the Suez Canal are far from sanguine. “A hole in the sand,” he says, “is an excellent place for sinking capital. You can always dig it deep if people will pay the diggers. You can even keep it clear if you pay dredges rather than dividends. When Europe or Asia or Af- rica is at war, of course the canal is closed, and the expenses go on

and the earnings stop. But so far as concerns England, we have always got at Aden the cork in the other end of the hot- tie.”—We imagine, however, that in case of a war between France and England, the cork would be easily drawn out.

At Cairo Mr. Macgregor wit- nessed a scene characteristic of the civilization which is being in- troduced into Egypt. “There is,” he says, “knocking down, building up, opening out, plant- ing, fencing, painting, cleaning, almost civilizing the old Egyptian capital. Great gangs of work- men are all day toiling here at reconstruction. Puny children, herded in long flocks by cruel task-masters, who flog them with long sticks, are carrying on their heads straw baskets full of earth and stones. As they march they sing; but it is in a rhythm of slav- ery. The strongest repression of one’s feelings is scarce enough to keep us from knocking that wretch over who has just belabored with his bludgeon a tender little girl. The evening brings a short relief even to the woe of these hapless little ones. They sit round in a circle with their baskets before them, while the roll- call is droned over by a task-master who can read.”

Early in December Mr. Macgregor, with the Rob Roy on board, embarked on a steamer from Alexandria for Beyrout, in Syria, in order to begin his exploration of the sacred waters: “Abana and Pharpar, rivers of Damascus;” the Jordan, hallowed for evermore for that its waters wet in baptism the head of Him who “for us men and for our salvation came down

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from heaven and was incarnate;” of the Lake of Gennesareth, around which cluster so many of His mightiest works and wonderful teach- ings ; of the river Kishon, that “ ancient river,” which swept away the hordes of Sisera, with their nine hundred chariots of iron.

Beyrout is the one living town of Syria. Its roads and streets are far better kept than most of those in Alexandria or Cairo; its houses are altogether superior externally to those of Egypt. Schools have within a few years been established here, by missionaries from abroad. Mr. Macgregor found time during his two days’ stay to visit some of these. Here is a printing- press

where the blind make Bibles for the blind, in raised characters, to be read by the fingers instead of the eyes. One of the most interest- ing sights which he saw in Beyrout was a blind man reading the Bible to a group of cripples seated around him.

The Erench are quietly and almost imper- ceptibly laying their hands upon Syria, fore- seeing the time when the Mediterranean will be a Erench lake. Erench steamers, main- tained by government subsidies, run all along the coast; Erench sign-boards hang over the

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shops; French Napoleons are the common coin. Within ten years the French have built a fine road from Beyrout a hundred miles south- eastward to Damascus. This road is the only one in all Syria fairly passable for a wheeled vehicle; although it is said that some one has recently rode in a carriage from Joppa to Jeru- salem. “This French road,” says Mr. Mac- gregor, “is excellent; it is all marked down in kilometers, very well kept, and rolled down, fenced, and drained. But the toll of three francs for each mule is enough to deter hun7 dreds of these from using the road; so they plod on their way along the old worn out, steep, muddy, slippery, winding bridle-path, which runs for miles along the carriage-way; and thus you see strings of heavy-laden asses, cam- els, and mules toiling along among boulders and sharp rocks, with their drivers ankle-deep in mud, while even the flat surface of the new road is used by a scant few, and no cart or car- riage goes upon it except as a part of the Com- pany’s monopoly. It is a miserable sight, and this gift of France to Syria is like a crust to a toothless beggar.”

But this road is not a “gift of France to Syria.” It is a part of the grand scheme which is some day, not far remote, to make Egypt and Syria, like Algeria, a part of the French Empire. In its far-reaching extent this project of France is only to be compared with that of Russia for the ultimate acquisition of the shores of the Black Sea and the Bosphorus.

Over this French road Mr. Macgregor pro- posed to transport the Rob Roy until the head waters of the Abana were reached. His first purpose was to have the canoe borne upon men’s shoulders, two carrying it, and two oth- ers as reserves. But the

first day’s trial in crossing the snowy Lebanon proved that this plan was futile; and the Rob Roy was placed in a covered wagon ; and so, crossing Mount Lebanon, “ the White Mountains,” whose sum- mits rise to the height of 10,000 feet, over- topping by two-thirds our own New England White Mountains, then descending into the fer- tile plain of Ccelo-Syria, then again, climbing the lower range of Anti-Lebanon, leaving the lofty peak of Hermon to the South, the canoe- ist reached Ain Eiji, a source of the ancient Abana, now called the Barada, the river which runs through Damascus.

This source of the Abana is in a dark dell shadowed by rugged cliffs. Here stand the ruins of two old temples, and the massive stones of an arch from out of which bursts a co- pious stream, which, after tumbling over rocks and boulders for seventy yards, plunges into a deep gorge where it meets another branch, the two forming the Abana. Near the village of Doomar, midway between Fiji and Damascus, ten miles from each, the Rob Roy was launched upon the river. Tidings of the approach of the canoe had reached Damascus by telegraph, and many persons had ridden out to witness the event. The river here resembles a swift Scotch salmon stream, with high snow-clad mountains on one side, and on the other bluff rocks, with here and there a bit of green wood- ed sward. The stream, now probably for the first time traversed by a human being, whirls through the deep gorge, sometimes obstructed by half-prostrate trees, whose branches inter- lace in the water, while their roots hold fast to

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the bank. Here a heavy rock overhangs on the left, while the right shore is of soft mud. The whole picture of this is presented in an in- stant, as you round a point, and the decision must be instantly made, or the current itself will decide. “ Strong to the left hand ; seize that bough ־with the right! Swing round a quarter-circle, then duck the head for ten sec- onds under that thorn, and shoot across below the second tree ; drift under the third, and five strokes will free us surely!”

The gorge passed safely, the canoe was borne

through a thicket of trees, with magnificent snowy crags behind them. The river is about sixty yards wide; but grows narrower every furlong, for little canals lead off the water to irrigate the cultivated fields. At least twenty times the canoeist had to jump out, and could only keep his footing in the swift current by the aid of a'strong pole. Sometimes the boat had to be dragged ashore and hauled around some impassable obstruction. Now it was a clump of fallen trees ; now a dam and mill-race. It took five hours to reach a point which is only

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an hour’s walk by the road which runs near by, often in plain sight. “At last,” writes Mr. Macgregor, “ the gorge loosened its hold upon us, and the canoe soon floated along the now placid river, while Damascus—old Damascus— gleamed out brilliant before me in the evening light, with its groves of green and white shining walls and airy minarets, a glorious scene. The far-famed approach to this city from the west, which unfolds to the traveler all its gentle beau- ty from a lofty hill, I had well remembered nine- teen years ago. That is one of the sights of the world; but the sudden emerging now from rapids and rocks and dense jungles into the broad day, with such a picture before me, was more striking by far than the other view.

“And now,” he continues, “the river itself seemed tired of the struggle, and it gurgled, almost sleeping, between the green river banks. There a most pleasant repast was spread on the soft grass, and the little knot of wondering Turks which soon collected was good proof that even Moslems, with all their apathy, could not help looking at a boat on the river. Then the Rob Roy glided into the town itself, under the bridges, round the dripping aqueducts, past the barracks, close up to the Pacha’s palace; and two men carried her weary hull safe to the hotel, with colors flying, my dragoman, Hany, singing, mud-splashing Moslems, wondering, and the hotel folks bowing. There on the cool water of the fountain in the court-yard I placed the canoe, with her blue sails set, and her gold- en flag reposing. Soon began the long line of visitors; each one as he left sent in a dozen friends to see. Even the Pacha of Damascus came, and the English Consul; and the Arabic newspapers gravely chronicled the arrival of the canoe in the same page with the movements ©f the Greek iron-clads, stirring up their fires then for a European war.”

Of Damascus, the oldest inhabited city on the globe, Mr. Macgregor says little, and that little not altogether complimentary. “Damas- cus,” he says, “has never yet, I think, been well described; and the reason may be that the traveler who has enough acuteness to paint a good word-picture of the town has sense enough to see that it is a sentimental humbug. In vain he tries to feel an admiration which he can not support by the appearance of the place. It may be the oldest, but in wet weather it is surely the filthiest of towns. It may be rich, but the mud-walls are what you see, and not the wealth. Damascus is a disappointment; its situation is its chief beauty, and once inside it you can not realize that outside these dirty lanes, tumble-down walls, gloomy shops, and crooked bazars are the lovely groves, the gush- : ing fountains, the teeming gardens, and the glorious hills.”

But the Rob Roy had come hither to solve a problem which had long ago presented itself to Mr. Macgregor. Twenty years before, he had looked over the plain of Damascus from the chapel whence the first view is caught. In the distance lie saw two huge aerial pillars. These he was told were

sand-clouds, whirled aloft by the breeze, and that they were coursing over a silent and desolate region, almost unknown, through which ran the river Abana, which, though it had run there for ages, and had been described in prose and sung in verse, melted away in the desert, how •and where nobody knew.

The Rob Roy had come to solve this mys- tery, by following the Abana down to its end. But, though this end was known to be in a morass hardly a score of miles from the city, nobody could give any reliable information. All agreed, however, that the morass or “lake” of Ateibeh was impenetrable; “full of whirl- pools which sucked people down; of hyenas, panthers, and wild-boars, which ate people up; of fevers, agues, snakes, jungle, sun-strokes,” and many other horrible things.

As a preliminary, Mr. Macgregor took a ride of a few miles eastward of Damascus along the course of the Abana. The speed of the river was moderate, for it was running through a plain; but its course was intricate, for it branched out into numerous channels, of which only one could be the right one, and nobody could tell which that one was. All these chan- nels were for the purpose of irrigation. “It is only by a ride of this sort,” says he, “that one can appreciate the richness and beauty of the Damascus plain, or can understand the marvel- ous ingenuity and perseverance with which the Abana has been led through the desert to water it. In Egypt, indeed, the sluices and canal- ettes are intricate enough, but nothing to what is done here. Banks, dams, lashers, and weirs seem to force the water into every nook of the country; to force it underground, and, as it were, even up hill, until every available drop has been wrung out for use. Below the shady groves, athwart bright, level meads, oozing over, murmuring beneath, and softly hurrying by, there is water every where, and nearly all this from that one river which has fed millions of people for ages of time; and if that river stopped, Damascus would perish.”

As a result of his inquiries and observations, Mr. Macgregor decided to try the Abana with his canoe; and where it could not float, to have it conveyed on land. How this was to be done in a region where there was no such thing as a road was a question. After deep cogitation a very simple plan was devised. A couple of poles, a little longer than the canoe, were placed two feet apart, and fastened together by side- pieces. Upon this frame the Rob Roy, wrapped up in carpets, was lashed. This frame, holding the canoe, was tied upon the back of a stout horse, whose back was padded with a bag of straw, by way of cushion. And so wherever the horse could go, the canoe went safely with him.

A little eastward of Damascus the Rob Roy was launched upon the Abana, now grown lazy enough. The channel led through groves and

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orchards, meadows and ozier beds. Sleepy 1 tortoises toppled down the banks; lazy land- : crabs crawled out of sight; ducks, too fat to fly, ' scuttled off into the brakes. This region is thickly peopled, and the inhabitants would run ! or ride for miles to follow the strange sight of. a I boat, the first which has ever traversed these : waters.

At length the Rob Roy, sometimes on water, j and sometimes on horseback, got down to the ; lagoon of Ateibeh, half land, half water, and all mud, in which the Abana finally loses itself, hard- ly twoscore miles from the point where it bursts from the snowy mountains into the plain. Here was a “wide sea of shallow water, concealed by grass in tufts, like an Irish bog, and with soft, de- ceptive mud, deep holes, and trickling stream- lets. Hundreds of cattle stood up to their stomachs in water; our mules plunged deep above their girths, and the men sank down re- peatedly. One of the little donkeys disappeared under water, head, ears, and every thing; but a clever muleteer caught him by the tail, and we pulled him out.” But by dint of much wading and paddling, the real mouth of the Abana was found; and here ־was passed the Christmas night of 1868. After all, the party were only twenty miles from a great city, and they had brought materials for an orthodox Christmas dinner. There were, among other things, a I stuffed turkey and a plum-pudding swimming : in the flames of brandy.

Leaving the Ateibeh Marsh, the Rob Roy was borne on horseback ten miles southward to Lake Hijaneh, in which the Pharpar, the other so- called river of Damascus, loses itself. The Pharpar does not, however, run by the city. Ateibeh is simply a morass; Hijaneh may be I

called a pond, for here, in the centre of a dense jungle, is an ,open body of clear water: and near its edge is an island of a few acres, upon which are the massive walls of four strong buildings, in which no man has dwelt for untold genera- tions. Wild-boars are its only inhabitants, and the surface was torn up by their deep ruts. Upon its borders, half buried in slime, were huge stones, ruined walls, and what look like the piers of a bridge, squared and cut for un- known purposes, by unknown men, at a time un- known. This deserted island appears to have been a fortress; but there is־ no record that be- fore Mr. Macgregor any man has seen it since history has been written. The reeds surround- ing the island are furrowed by boar tracks, along which the Rob Roy could be propelled; but the animals who made them were not seen.

Lake Hijaneh having been explored, Mr. Macgregor wished to take a look at the remains of the “ Giant Cities,” in the region toward the south which the Bible styles                                                 the stone

country”—and Bashan, wherein of old dwelt the giant Og, whose bedstead was of iron, nine cubits long. Over this region the Turks hold merely nominal control. After traveling a couple of days over bleak stony hills and dry river-courses, they saw what in the distance looked like an ir- regular mass of rock and stone a mile in length —the ruins of the commoner houses; but at the extremity were fifty or sixty structures almost uninjured. The walls of these, five or six feet thick, were of blocks of basalt, some of them well cut and polished. Many were two stories high, and some three. But every thing was of stone. The rafters, twelve or fourteen feet long, were of stone; the stairs and floors of stone ; there were stone mangers in the stables,

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stone cooking-places and troughs in the kitch- ens. The very doors and window-shutters were solid slabs of stone. The outer door of the house which they occupied was seven feet high and six inches thick, composed of two leaves, opening inward, moving upon stone pivots, yet so nicely balanced that they could be opened and shut with a finger. The window was fur- nished with a stone shutter four feet high, open- ing outward. How׳ old these structures are no one knows. In the court-yard of one is a Greek inscription bearing date five centuries before Christ.

Returning to the Pharpar, the Rob Roy was launched upon its winding waters. It is cer- tainly the crookedest of rivers—bend within bend—so that one had to paddle seven or eight miles in order to accomplish what would be a mile in a straight line.

On New-Year’s Day, 1869, Mr. Macgregor returned to Damascus, and the next day set out to recross the mountains in search of the head waters of the Jordan. The Jordan and the Abana rise on opposite sides of the range of Anti-Lebanon, their head waters almost over- lapping. Neither sends a drop of water to the sea, the one being lost in the deep gorge of the Dead Sea, and the other disappearing in the marsh of Ateibeh.

Skirting a spur of Mount Hermon they wound up a steep crooked path, amidst slippery rocks, projecting trees, loose stones, and deceitful mud. Two men could hardly hold the Rob Roy in its place upon the horse’s back, as it swayed to and i fro in the cold blasts which swept down from the snowy summits. On the fourth day they pitched their tents at Rukleh, a town hemmed in by piles of sharp gray rocks, tumbled together in wild confusion. Climbing these, one perceives that in the olden time every nook of these jagged heights had been

occupied. There were end- less winding avenues, gardens hanging upon steeps, retaining-walls to sustain the soil wher- ever a few square roods of space could thus be secured. Temples and altars and tombs har- bored in clefts of the rock, all showed that Life, and its follower Death, had peopled these re- gions now so desolate. These remains go far to justify the accounts given in the text of the He- brew Scriptures of the dense population which, in the time of the monarchy, once occupied all Palestine.

Still onward went the Rob Roy, mostly on horseback, but often borne by hand. The lay of the land showed that they must now be ap- proaching the sources of the Jordan. They searched here and there, finding spring upon spring, whose waters were soon lost. At last, in a lonely field, one was discovered from which flowed a little brook. This grew grad- ually larger, and at length tumbled, in a pretty little cascade, over a low ledge of rock, and ran away in a bright dancing stream. This, which Mr. Macgregor styles Ain Rob Roy, “Rob Roy Fountain, ” he regards as the true source of the Jordan; that is, the farthest point from which a constant stream makes its way. This young Jordan, here called the Hasbany, is a pretty brook, growing larger and larger until it spreads into a pool. The natives averred this to be a thousand feet deep; but upon being sounded, the line touched bottom at the depth of eleven feet. Upon this pool the Rob Roy was first launched upon the Jordan. But the canoe had to be carried past a little cascade, which turns a mill, and then the stream is crossed by a nar- row stone bridge, and then the Rob Roy fairly commenced her downward voyage.

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The river was still too narrow for paddling, and Mr. Macgregor, pole in hand, now mounted astride of the canoe, and now wading and drag- ging it after him, managed to make way for a space. At length the brook, now swollen by a sudden storm into a headlong torrent, rushed through a ravine where the canoe could not live; and the Rob Roy was borne overland to another branch, the head of which forms what is historically known as the source of the Jor- dan. The region is far from a peaceful one. Not long before the bodies of three men had been found under a tree hard by. At a place, now called Tell el Kady, once Dan, the extreme northernmost limits of the kingdom of Israel, this historic Jordan bursts forth in a noble spring, said to be the largest single source in the world. The “ Tell” is a great mound, al- most square, the sides being from 250 to 300 yards. In one corner is the spot where it is said King Jeroboam set up one .of the. two calves of gold, which the Israelites were to re- gard as the gods which had brought their fa- thers up out of the land of Egypt. This mound resembles the rim of a volcanic crater, sloping inward into a tangled thicket, around which is yet a low dais, apparently the remains of an amphitheatre. Out of this the water rushes into a circular basin a hundred feet wide. The Rob Roy was set afloat upon this pool, which Macgregor was assured was bottomless. He sounded it with a pole, and found its depth to be just five feet.

One more so-called “ Source of the Jordan,” had yet to be visited. This is at Banias, an hour’s ride eastward from Tell el Kady. The way lies through a well-wooded region, whose fine clumps of oak give it an almost park-like character. Soon the traveler finds himself among beautiful ruins—bridges, walls, and pros- trate pillars—the remains of the city of Caesarea Philippi. This was probably the extreme north- ward point reached by our Saviour in his jour- neyings upon earth. Near this place it

was that Peter made the confession, ‘4Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God,”and received the reply, “*Thou art Peter, and upon this rock will I build my church.”

The modern representative of Caesarea Phi- lippi is the insignificant village of Banias (an Arabic corruption ofPaneas, “the city of Pan," for to this heathen deity was dedicated the fount- ain hard by, which is one of the three recognized sources of the Jordan, and by many esteemed the principal one). This fountain bursts forth in front of a deep cavern which pierces the foot of a steep limestone cliff'. The stream flowing from this fountain soon loses itself in a wide morass, dotted here and there with patches of bright water.

After a course of half a dozen miles the stream (here called the Leddan), flowing from the fountain at Tell el Kady, unites with the Banias ; and three miles below they are joined by the Hasbany. “Of these streams,” says Thomson, “the Leddan is far the largest, the Banias the most beautiful, the Hasbany the longest.” The united river now for the first time takes the name of Jordan, “the Descend- er”—rightly due both to the fast flow and enor- mous fall of the river, which also descends deep- er into the bowels of the earth than any other river in the world.

To the meeting of the waters the Rob Roy was borne on horseback. The explorers put up for a night at a little mill. The host had come to this place a year before. He was a Chris- tian, and four of his children had been massa- cred not long before by the Mussulmans. The only survivor was a beautiful girl of ten, “with a happy angelic look.” Her father held out her little right hand to show how it was gashed and scarred, and worthless for needle-work. In the room was a heap of corn, and steelyards to weigh it; but not an article of furniture except a single straw mat. Soon a party of half a

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dozen Arabs entered. They had come to buy gunpowder of the miller. He pulled out an old canvas sack upon which Mr. Macgregor had been leaning, smoking his pipe. The powder was lying perfectly, loose in the sack. One of the visitors was also smoking a nargilleh. Each of the Arabs flashed a pinch of the povyder in his rusty gun; and all began chaffering and wrangling over their purchases as they were weighed out. Some put the powder into bits of paper, others into goat-skin bags, and others placed it loosely in their pockets.

The river for some miles runs through the lagoon known as the Lake of Huleh. Herds of buffaloes and horses were browsing on the luscious green grass. The few hamlets are curiously various in their architecture. Here is a stone house with a flat roof; then a mud- wall, with a round top of reed matting; then dwellings with mats for the side walls and roofs shaped like a pulpit cushion, the tassels repre- sented by heavy stones tied with straw ropes to keep the roof in place; then are black Arab tents, with woven reeds at the sides; and then regular tents: every variety of tent and thatch and mud and mat combined.

The Rob Roy was launched upon the Jordan ; the stream, about a hundred feet wide, running swiftly on a course almost as winding as that of the Pharpar. Mr. Macgregor sent his attend- ants with the animals to skirt the edge of the morass, while he alone in the canoe undertook to paddle down the river. He had gone a few miles when all at once he saw a head peering over the dense fringe of canes. Then there was a yell, replied to by answering yells; and soon a crowd appeared on the banks, dancing and shouting ferociously. The current bore the canoe along too rapidly for

them to keep up with it; but they cut across the bend, and sa- luted the stranger with a harmless shower of clods. At the next bend the crowd, now in- creased to half a hundred—men, women, and children—were ahead. At the bend the voy- ager was again saluted by a fresh shower of missiles, and the cry, in Arabic, “To land! to land!” He made a polite bow, and answered Inyleez, 11 Englishman,” and paddled along. Half a dozen brawny fellows flung off their gar- ments and plunged into the water, swimming, “dog-fashion,” in a splendid manner; but yet they were no match for the canoe.

At the next bend they were still further ahead, and ready for action. They had drawn up in a line, some standing waist-deep in the water, others swimming. Mr. Macgregor floated close to one of the swimmers, splashed him in the face with the paddle, and slipped past him. The crowd on shore set up a laugh. One stout fellow made a magnificent dive from the bank and came up by the stern of the canoe, with his arm over the deck. The Englishman shoved him off with his paddle, saying, in the best Arabic at his command, “Thanks !” as though he had received some signal service. He had run the blockade; but it was of no avail. The bank was lined by an ever-increasing crowd. Some had spears, some ox-goads, others huge round-headed clubs. Another shower of mis- siles came harmlessly, not one hitting even the canoe.

Then arose a cry : Baroda ! baroda ! li The gun! the gun!” and in an instant Macgregor saw several long guns pointed at him. But only one of the fellows seemed at all inclined to fire. This one looked as though he meant “ business.” He examined his priming, cocked his piece, and brought the muzzle to bear, at a

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range of hardly a score of feet. A vigorous stroke of the paddle and a shot from the gun were simultaneous — the ball splashing close astern. The chase was clearly up: the canoe stopped. “Not fair to use a gun!” shouted the canoeist. But the water was now full of naked swimmers. Suddenly the canoe was pulled down from behind. The same big fel- low who had a few minutes before made the magnificent dive had got hold of it with one hand, while in the other he brandished the sliank-bone of a buffalo. He made a pass with it, which was warded off by the paddle. But by this time others had laid hold, and the Rob Roy was a prize.

“Backshish!” was now insinuated. “Yes; but to the sheikh.” Meanwhile, Macgregor commenced parleying with his chief captor, af- fectionately patting his bare black poll, as one pats the head of a mastiff. “ Not fair to use that,” said he, pointing to the bone club. “Not fair to use that,” replied the Arab, pointing to the paddle. The fellow became pacified, and was highly elate when the prisoner formally appointed him as his protector. Macgregor now tried his skill at charming the mob, who had begun to grow good-natured; but there is nothing so uncertain as the temper of a mob. “I am English,” he said. “Friends,” they answered. “ One Englishman”—holding up one finger—“all the rest Arabs,” he continued, holding up both hands. The crowd was tickled, and set up a laugh, in which the captive joined heartily. One little imp of mischief tried to break up the harmony. Seizing a huge lump of mud, she dashed it down upon the canoe. It was an even chance yet which side the mob would take. But Macgregor was equal to the occasion.' With a look more of sorrow than of anger, he pointed silently at the great muddy spot on the clean top of the canoe. The na- tives looked• on for a moment in silence; and then, as by a single impulse, they seized the girl and carried her off; but the sound of heavy thwacks and loud screams evinced that she was undergoing severe discipline.

In the confusion the captive almost succeed- ed in making off 5 but was again captured. He refused to quit the canoe; and, before he fair- ly knew what was going on, he found himself and canoe lifted bodily out of the water, and borne up the steep, muddy bank, and off to the tent of the sheikh, in which the canoe was de- posited. Macgregor, with grave courtesy, ad- vanced to the sheikh, shook his hand, informed him that he was an English traveler on his way to the lake, and would rest in the tent until the sun was cooler. The sheikh went out to con- suit with his cabinet; in an hour he came back, saying, “You can not go to the lake.” “I must.” “ Impossible,” replied the sheikh, with a little wink of the eye. Macgregor replied by a wink, and went out. The Englishman saw that the Arab was open to an “arrangement.”

The wife of the sheikh now came in, and Macgregor laid himself out to make himself

I agreeable. He showed her his canoe with all ' its fittings—bed, lamp, compass, and cooking ap- ! paratus. The woman, who was “ quite refined and very intelligent,” was lost in amazement, and full of compassion, when he complained that he, a stranger and alone, was losing all the fine sunshine. She brought in her husband, j that he also might see the wonderful canoe.

• While Macgregor was showing it, he managed ! to open his hand so that the sheikh might see a j gold Napoleon. li Shwei—k-s-sk,” whispered the Arab; and the Englishman knew that the bargain was as good as made.

But who ever heard of an off-hand bargain with Arabs ? The council of the sheikh came in, with their decision: “You can’t go to-day, but shall have a horse to-morrow. ” The nego- tiation went on; but on the part of the Arabs it always came back to the one point—“back- shish. ” All this time no food had been offered to the stranger. To eat together, and especially to take salt together, is the one inviolate pledge of amity. Macgregor undertook to gain this pledge. He set his little cooking apparatus in operation, and soon, by the help of “preserved soup,” had a dish ready. Its flavor fell pleas- antly on the Arab olfactories. Then he opened a little box—a snuff-box, in fact—filled with a white granular substance looking like powdered sugar. This he offered to the sheikh, who placed a little in his mouth. In an instant Macgregor had swallowed the remainder, and gave the Arab a hearty thump on the back. The sheikh made a rather wry face. “What is it? Is it sugar?” asked the by-standers. “ No; it’s salt,” replied the sheikh. The stran- ger had fairly eaten salt with the Arab, in his own tent, and so for a whole day he had be- come the guest of the sheikh, who was bound by the most stringent code of his race to pro- tect him at all hazards, even though he had been the murderer of his own son.

Now came a bit of by-play as to the way in which the yellow Napoleon should pass from ! the English traveler to the Arab sheikh. The | transfer must be made, but in such a way that no “injunction” should reach it, and nobody 1 be able to testify how it was done. Traveler ! and sheikh find themselves alone. Traveler’s | hand, holding the coin, slips accidentally into that of sheikh. Sheikh pushes it away, with virtuous, but very gentle, indignation. All this time the parties of the first part and of the sec- ond part stand side by side, looking straight ahead, their hands behind their backs, never i fairly separated. The yellow representative of the French Emperor is somewhere among those | ten fingers. Now one five had it; then the oth- er five. At length the Englishman found his hand empty; but we do not think he can testify,

; “ of his own knowledge,” whither the Napoleon went.

At all events the sheikh went away to talk with his cabinet. He did not reappear; but the premier announced the decision: “You can go to-morrow.” But this did.not at all

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suit Macgregor. He had bought the court, and every body knew it. So he pulled out an old copy of the Times. merely saying, “To-morrow!

No ! I’m English and went on reading the newspaper. In five minutes an official ap- peared, announcing that the traveler might leave at once.

This did not quite satisfy the captain of the Rob Roy. He insisted that the Arabs must carry the canoe back to the river. This was done with as much formality as the case admitted. The Rob Roy with its indomitable commander was again set afloat upon the Jordan, amidst the congratula- tions of the Arabs.

But the day’s adventures were by no means over. The canoe somehow got out of the trne river channel, and was involved in the thick reeds of the marsh, through which there was no possibility of making way. So back the Rob Roy had to go; and the captain was lodged in the place which he had left in the morning— not, however, in the tent of the sheikh, who was somewhat ashamed that some of his people had tried to get backshish after he had made “things right.” Instead of the royal abode, Mr. Macgregor supped in the tent of the prem- ier, with a large and distinguished circle of Arabs. Prominent among the guests was a lively youngster to whom Macgregor took spe- cial fancy, which was not lessened when he learned that this was the identical person who had all the morning kept his gun trained at the voyager’s head.

Macgregor went to rest, with all sorts of schemes for escape running through his head. Toward morning he heard a distant shout, “Rob Roy!” An answering response was given ; and soon Hany, the faithful dragoman, came upon the scene, followed by the rest of the Englishman’s attendants.

It was beautiful to see how Hanv took mat- ters into his own hands. He made the old premier bestir himself; called up all the Arabs, and gave them a sound rating. One of them demurred a little, and got kicked for his im-‘ pudence. Hany managed to pick a bit of ap- parent quarrel with another of Macgregor’s attendants, Latoof by name, who had failed to be prompt in blacking the master’s boots. “Don’t mind this,” whispered the dragoman to his employer, “ Latoof and I have arranged it all. ” To the Arabs Hany was contemptuous; to the Englishman apparently most abject. “You see,” he exclaimed to the natives, “how like grasshoppers you are before me; yet I am the slave of the Howaja—and him you have dared to insult!”

Mr. Macgregor ventured to intimate that

this was all humbug. Hany’s reply was sharp to

the point: “Without humbug we could never manage these men.” Hany fairly took the Arabs down. He got up for them a rather sumptuous repast, at which the English Lord had to sit• and feign hunger. Eor all this he had to pay. The amount was not very exor- bitant. “ I had,” he says, “ a feast, and a lodg- ing, and porters, and protection, and excellent fun ; and all for the very reduced tariff of 16s. 4J.”

On the lagoon, where he re-embarked next day, Macgregor saw a native afloat on a bundle of reeds, which he punted along with a long pole, his spear sticking up like a mast. This was the first native water-craft which he saw in Syria, and it and five little boats on Lake Gen- nesareth probably make up every vessel in the country. The lagoon, at its lower end, term- inates in the little Lake Hooleh—the biblical ‘ ‘ Waters of Merom. ” After several fruitless at- tempts to follow the Jordan through the marsh, Mr. Macgregor had the Rob Roy borne over- land to the lake, which he circumnavigated, and was rewarded by the discovery of the spot where the river enters it. The stream is bordered on each side by a wall of papyrus, the stems stand- ing so thick that a bird can not penetrate, and the utmost exertions could only force the sharp bows of the canoe a yard into the dense thick- et. Mr. Macgregor is apparently the only man who for centuries has seen this mouth of the Jordan.

Lake Hooleh is 150 feet above the level of the ocean. Ten miles below, in a straight line, is the Lake of Gennesareth, which lies 653 feet below the ocean level. In ten miles, therefore, the Jordan falls 800 feet. The river soon be- comes a roaring torrent in which no boat could live. The Rob Roy was therefore borne by land, keeping as nearly as possible to the chan- nel of the river; and was safely set afloat upon

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the lake hallowed for evermore by the presence of Him who often sailed upon its waters and trod its shores.

The sacred sea or lake is designated in Scrip- ture by four names. These, with some merely orthographical variations, are, “Chinnereth,” “Gennesareth,” “Galilee,” and “Tiberias.” Its shape is almost like that of a pear, the stem being at its lower extremity. Its extreme length is about fourteen miles; greatest breadth, seven miles. Its average depth is about 100 feet, the deepest soundings 160 feet. It occu- pies the first of the great depressions by which the valley of the Jordan sinks below ocean level. The Rob Roy was for a whole fortnight employ- ed in the navigation and circumnavigation of this lake. Mr. Macgregor paddled around and across it; and his narrative forms a most valu- able addition to our stores of information re- specting one of the most interesting portions of the Holy Land. The lake itself remains un- changed. It is still swept over by sudden storms, as it was almost nineteen centuries ago, when the Saviour walked upon its waters. One such storm the Rob Roy encountered, narrow- ly escaping wreck. In the days of our Lord its waters were flecked by the boats of fisher- men. A generation after, Josephus got to- gether, as he says, 230 little boats for an enter- prise against the Romans. Not long after, if we may believe him, there was a great naval battle fought upon the lake, the water of which was colored with blood, and the shore strewn with corpses. If after that, for seventeen cen- turies, there were vessels on the lake, history has no record of them. But if the waters are unchanged, the country around is altered. Sav- ing the flea-bitten town of Tiberias, there is no place of ancient note whose site can be positive- ly identified. Capernaum, the ‘ own city, ” the “home” of our Lord, lay somewhere upon the

western shore of the lake: but where no man can now certainly say. Robinson places it at one point, Thomson at another; Macgregor agrees with Robinson.

The whole length of the Jordan, measuring in a direct line, is 120 miles ; or about 200 miles, measuring the windings of channel. Prom the Lake of Gennesareth to the mouth is 70 miles, in which the river descends about 650 feet, and falls into the Dead Sea 1300 feet below the level of the Mediterranean, fifty miles distant. Could a channel be cut between the two waters, a narrow lake nearly 200 miles long would be formed, more than 3000 feet deep in its lowest part. The Jordan was never navigable, and it appears to have been only twice descended in a boat: in 1847, by the English Lieutenant Molyneux, who lost his life on the Dead Sea; and in 1848, by the American Lieutenant Lynch. The Rob Roy could easily have gone down to the Dead Sea; but that has been oft- en described, and the passage, as shown by Lynch, presents nothing which can not be seen from the banks. Mr. Macgregor had gone mainly to see what could be seen only in a boat, and what no boat had ever done before. So, after venturing a few miles down as far as to the rapids, where Lynch with his two heavy boats was detained for hours, but which the Rob Roy passed in a few minutes, the canoe was once more put on horseback, and borne over the plain of Esdraelon, past Nazareth and Cana, to the Bay of Acre, and embarked on the “ ancient river” Kishon and the Belus, famous as the spot where, according to doubtful story, glass was first discovered. Then, after a land journey to Jerusalem and the Dead Sea, Mac- gregor shipped his canoe to Alexandria, and thence back to England, reaching Southampton on the 9th of April, 1869—six months, to a day, from the time when it had set out.

מעניין לדעת

לימים יצא הספר המלא של מסעו של מקגריגור בנהרות ארץ ישראל.

ספר זה תורגם לעברית ויצא לאור בסדרת הספרים בהוצאת משרד הביטחון 'ספריית מסעות ארץ ישראל' בעריכת רחבעם (גנדי) זאבי.

השאר תגובה