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FOR JANUARY, 1822.
Travels in Palestine, through the Countries of Bashan and Gilead, East of the River Jordan: including a Visit to the Cities of Geraza and Gamala, in the Decapolis. By J. S. Buckingham, Member of the Asiatic Society, Calcutta, &c. 4to. pp. xxvi,
554. Price 31. 13s, 6d. London. 1821. ALL that learned speculation and research could do to illos.
trate the topography of Palestine, has been accomplished; and yet, after all the erudite labours of Reland and D'Anville, with all the light which the details of ancient and modern Travellers have thrown upon the subject, there is scarcely any part of the world, certainly none of comparable interest, respecting which our information is so meagre, perplexed, and unsatisfactory. Michaelis complained, that our travellers never venture across Jordan. Dr. Seetzen * and Mr. Burckhardt are the only
* In one of the cells in the convent at the foot of Mount Sinai, Mr. Fazakerley, in 1811, found a paper giving the following account of Dr. Seetzen's journey through Palestine.
Le 9 d'Avril, 1807, U. I. Seetzen, nommé Mousa, voyageur
Allemand, M.D. &c. est venu visiter le couvent de la Sainte Cathe. • rine, les monts d’Horeb, et de Sinai, et de la Saint Catherine, après • avoir parcouru toutes les provinces orientales anciennes de la Pa. • lestine; scavoir, Auranitis, Trachonitis, Gaulonitis, Paneas, Batanæa, • Decapolis, Galaaditis, Ammonitis, Amorrhitis, Moabitis, jusqu'aux • frontieres de la Gebalene (Idumæa), et après avoir fait deux fois • l'entour de la Mer Morte, traversé le desert de l'Arabie Petreè, • entre la ville d'Hebron et le Mont Sinai par un chemin jusquà • ce temps lá inconnu. Après un séjour de dix jours il continuoit • son voyage pour la ville de Suez.' This,' adds Mr. F., is rather pompous, but Dr. Seetzen is, unquestionably, a traveller of great enterprise. He has been seven or eight years in these countries, and his experience, and babits, and knowledge of Arabic, qualify him in a remarkable degree for the pursuits in which he is engaged. The Arabs know him well by the name of Mousa.'
Walpole's Travels in the East, p. 371. VOL. XVII. N. S.
Europeans who are known to have explored the trans-Jordanic provinces of Judea; both of whom have died without leaving any records of their discoveries in those parts. But even with regard to the more familiar tract, the bigh road of pilgrimage, and more especially Jerusalem itself, the little that there is to know, is so obscured by varying testimony and legendary fiction, that our maps are half hypothesis, while two thirds of wbat bas been written in description is no better than romance. The peculiar difficulties, arising from the nature of the country and its political and moral condition, with which travellers have to contend, in part account for the imperfect shape which their information assumes. Few have had leisure or license to make the requisite researches which they would have been disposed to institute; and so little is there in the present aspect of the country to tempt the Christian traveller to linger in even the niost sacred localities, that he generally appears to be as eager to escape from Jerusalem, as if the ghost of Saladin were chasing him back to the sea.
This dislike to the Holy City is pretty general, according to Mr. Buckingham's testimony, among even the Catholic fraternities. • Bad as Damascus is for Christians, said a young friar, ' I would rather remain ten years there, than • be condemned to pass five in Jerusalem. It was from necessity that our Author remained there so long as a week. Nearly the wbole of his route was imposed upon him by untoward circumstances or prudential considerations. It is only a rapid survey, therefore, which he has given us of a country wbich might seem to invite the most patient research; and in many instances, he has done little more than give a fresh impulse to the scepticism which Dr. Clarke had already awakened respecting the identity of the sacred places. Yet, his volume is both interesting and valuable in more than an ordinary degree. He has been enabled to suggest some important corrections of geographical errors, and to add considerably to our knowledge of the more distant and less frequented regions.
Strange as it may sound, it is not in Palestine that we must seek for illustrations of Scripture, derived from the manners and customs of the present race of natives. The traveller in Persia, Arabia, or even Abyssinia, will collect far richer materials for this purpose in the familiar objects every where presented to bim, than he can possibly do in posting through the once sacred territory, which has been swept and wasted by successive hordes of Pagan, Christian, Saracen, and Turk, till its identity seems almost equivocal. Its present destitute and barren aspect is not more at variance with our ideas of its ancient fertility, than the motley tribes of intruders by whom it is overrun, differ from its once favoured possessors. Now,' says an English pilgrim who visited it in 1600, being inhabited by infidels that profane " the name of Christ, and live in all filthy and beastly manner, . God curseth it, and so it is made barren.' And he
his account of it, by saying: 'To conclude, there is not that sio in ' the world but is used there among those infidels that now inhabit ' therein; and yet, it is called Terra Sancta, and, in the Arabian
tongue, Cuthea, which is the Holy Land, bearing the name
only and no more; for all holiness is clean banished from ' thence by those thieves, filthy Turks, and infidels that inhabit
the same.' But, filthy and rapacious as are the Turkish infidels, the Christian population, who appear to be sunk a degree lower in idolatrous ignorance than their Mahommedan masters, fully keep pace with them in profligacy. In fact, the moral superiority of the infidels,' is frequently so glaring as almost to reconcile the mind to their political ascendancy.
But the geography of Palestine is a bighly important branch of that knowledge which is necessary to illustrate the language and explain the allusions of the sacred writers; and this consideration stamps a peculiar value on a volume of travels the scene of which is laid in that country. Dry as mere topographical details may be found, they become of real iinportance when Scripture is concerned. Nor will the site of Dodona or the Troad appear to the Christian a subject more worthy of intense curiosity and laborious investigation, than the situation of Zion, or the
For our advantage, to the bitter cross. The use of such investigations, bowever, relates purely to Biblical literature. There is no power in the scenes themselves to call up one truly religious feeling; nor is there the slightest affinity between the enthusiasm of the pilgrim and the faith of the Christian. It is inere curiosity that the actual inspection of the sacred places is adapted to gratify, and the effect of such inspection is always disappointment. There is nothing in the present appearance of Jerusalem, to meet the excited expectations of the Traveller; expectations which are seldom reasonable. Dr. Clarke, indeed, speaks of the grandeur of the spectacle which the city exhibited, as approached from the road of Napolose. But Mr. Buckingbam's account amply confirms the representation given by Mr. Jolliffe in bis “ Letters from Palestine," * of the violent disruption of every grand or pleasing association by the first view of the modern town.
• The appearance' (he says).' of this celebrated city, independently of the feelings and recollections which the approach to it
See-Eclectic Review. Vol. XIII. (N. S.) p. 108.
cannot fail to awaken, was greatly inferior to my expectations, and had certainly nothing of grandeur or beauty, of stateliness or magnificence about it. It appeared like a walled town of the third or fourth class, having neither towers, nor domes, nor minarets within it, in sufficient numbers to give even a character to its impressions on the beholder; but shewing chiefly large flat-roofed buildings of the most unornamented kind, seated amid rugged hills, on a stoney and forbidding soil, with scarcely a picturesque object in the whole compass of the surrounding view.'
Mr. Brown bears a similar testimony, and Chateaubriand, after describing the bouses in Jerusalem as wearing the general appearance of prisons or sepulchres, says: " At the sight of these houses of stones, enclosed in a country of stones, one is
ready to question whether we are not looking on the confused 9 monuments of a cemetery in the midst of a desert.'
Jerusalem is no more. What exists on its site, serves only to preclude or to mislead topographical inquiries. Not a vestige remains of the city of David; not a monument of Jewish times is standing. The very course of the walls is changed, and the boundaries of the ancient city are become doubtful. The supposed mount Calvary' is said to have been levelled, and the brook of Kedron is for the most part dry. Even if the natural advantages of the situation were greater than they are, and the modern town bad more architectural grandeur or picturesque beauty to aid its effect on the spectator, it would still be a melancholy, a revolting prospect. For what could reconcile to the feelings, the monstrous incongruity of Turkish domes and minarets towering over the site of the Temple, and the triumphant symbol of the Mabommedan imposture glittering amid the towers of convents and churches given up to a scarcely less infernal apostacy? Neither the Cbristian, nor the Mahommedan has any business there: it belongs not to them. The Roman, to whom the city was given in vengeance, might be allowed to insult its ruins by erectiog over them shrines and altars to his fabulous deities; and were any of the edifices of the Ælian colony still standing, they would seem to speak a language in unison with the scene. But the monuments of Christian fanaticism and of Saracenic prowess, are alike disgusting; and when one thinks of all the mummeries that have been acted there since the days of the Empress Helena down to the present time, of all the blood that has been shed in the successive crusades for the conquest of Jerusalem, and of all the unutterable abominations which have polluted the once sacred precincts, one can hardly suppress the wish that the earth would up-heave and shake off the paltry burden which encumbers the soil, or ingulf all that tisurps the site and holy name of the guilty and devoted city. Jerusalem, utterly waste and untenanted, a sad and savage desert, were the only state in which it could be viewed by a person of enlightened sensibility, with the appropriate emotion of melancholy complacency.
But we must introduce to our readers the Author. In a long prefatory narrative, Mr. Buckingham challenges the respectful attention of the public, by a detail of the circumstances which peculiarly qualified bim for bis undertaking. At the age of ten, he was taken prisoner by the Spaniards, and marched through the finest parts of Spain and Portugal, which, captive as he was, excited all his youthful entbusiasm. A series of voyages to America, the Babama Islands, and the West Indies, subsequently strengthened, instead of allaying, bis passion for exploring distant regions. The Mediterranean next became the scene of his wanderings; and be now applied himself, with more than common ardour, to the reading of every book within his reach, that was likely to extend bis knowledge of the interesting countries by wbich he was surrounded. Unfavourable as are the incessant duties and the bardy life of a sailor, to such pursuits, every moment he could spare from the vigilant watchi which squalls, and storms, and pirates, and the complicated claims of navigation and commerce, constantly demanded, was given, he says, to these studies. Sicily, Malta, Greece, the iga lands of the Archipelago, the coasts of Asia Minor, gave bim only a foretaste, but a most delicious one, of what it was yet reserved for him to enjoy. Alexandria at length received bim into her port. He beheld the Pharos, the Catacombs, Cleopatra's Obelisk, and Pompey's Pillar; then, ascending the Nile, he visited the Pyramids, the ruins of Heliopolis, and of Tentyra. At Thebes he remained a week. At Esneh, he met the lamented Burckbardt, and the Travellers spent several days together. They then pursued their journey in different direetions; Mr. Burckhardt setting off for the Desert, and our Author continuing his course up the stream. He reached the Cataracts; and bis curiosity being excited by intelligence of the wonderful monuments still beyond, he re-embarked, and penetrated beyond the Nubian frontier. The temples of Daboat, of Taefa, and Galabshee; the quarries and inscriptions of Gartaasy; the stupendous eavern, with its alley of sphinxes and colossal statues, at Garfeeey; and the highly finished sculptures of the beautiful temple of Dukkey, rewarded the undertaking;-monuments which, in his opinion, belong to a higher class of art than even those of Egypt. On his return, attempting to pass through the Desert, he was robbed of money, papers, arms, instruments, and clothes, and had to retrace bis steps to Kosseir, naked and barefoot, scorefied by day, and frozen by night, and during two days without food or water. This adventure had nearly proved fatal to bim. Nothing daunted or tamed, however, by this reverse, on his return