Obrázky stránek
PDF
ePub

a

in the shade, or swinging from the branches of the trees. They began to abuse us with their tongues as we passed ; and at length they found themselves emboldened to treat us to a shower of stones. A brickbat of considerable size gave me rather a severe blow on the back.

On arriving at Jacob's Well, we found the mouth of it, which is in the middle of the ruins of a church by which it was formerly surmounted, covered with two large stones. These we were unable ourselves to remove; but a half-dozen sturdy Arabs, from a small hamlet close by, did the needful for us, in expectation, of course, of a due reward. The opening over the well is an orifice in a dome or arch, less than two feet in diameter. Our Samaritan friend was the first to enter. He held by a piece of rope, which we kept

a in our hands till, swinging himself across the mouth of the well, properly so called, he found footing on the margin of the excavation over which the dome extends. Mr Smith and myself, dispensing with the superfluous parts of our dresses, followed his example, our companions, whom we thought it expedient to leave without, keeping fast hold of the rope till, with the assistance of Jacob, we got a firm footing beside him. The Arabs entered one after another without difficulty. All within was hitherto darkness ; but by the aid of a packet of lucifers, we lighted our candles, and were able to look down the well to a considerable depth. It was now time to disclose our plan of operation to our native attendants. Jacob,” said

we,

" a friend of ours, an English traveller and minister (the Rev. Andrew Bonar, of Collace), dropped the five books of Moses and the other inspired records into this well, about three years ago, and if you will descend and bring them up, we shall give you a handsome bakshish.“Bakshish !” said the Arabs, kindling at the sound, “ if there is to be a bakshish in the case, we must have it, for we are the lords of the land.” “ Well, down you go,” said we, throwing the rope over their shoulders, “and you shall have the bakshish.” Nay, verily,” said they, “you mean to hang us; let Jacob do what he pleases.” Jacob was ready at our command ; and when he had tied the

round his body below his shoulders, he received our parting instructions. We asked him to call out to us the moment that he might arrive at the surface of the water, and told him that we should so hold the rope as to prevent him from sinking, if there was any considerable depth of the element. We

rope

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

When our

told him also to pull out one of the candles with which he had stored his breast, and to ignite it when he might get below. As he looked into the fearful pit on the brink of which he stood, terror took hold of him; and he betook himself to prayer in the Hebrew tongue. We, of course, gave him no interruption in his solemn exercises, as, in the circumstances of the case, we could not but admire the spirit of devotion which he evinced. On a signal given we let him

go. "The Arabs held with us the rope, and we took care that he should descend as gently as possible. material was nearly exhausted, he called out, “ I have reached the bottom; and it is at present scarcely covered with water.” Forthwith he kindled his light; and that he might have every advantage, we threw him down a quantity of dry sticks, with which he made a blaze, which distinctly showed us the whole of the well, from the top to the bottom. We saw the end of the rope at its lower part; and we put a knot upon it at the margin above, that we might have the exact measurement when Jacob might come up. After searching for about five minutes for the Bible among the stones and mud at the bottom, our kind friend joyfully called out, “ It is found ! it is found ! it is found !” We were not slow, it may be supposed, in giving him our congratulations. The prize he carefully put into his breast; and then he declared his readiness, with our aid, to make the ascent. Ready, however, he was not to move. He was evidently much frightened at the journey which was before him to the light of day; and he was not slow to confess his fears. mind,” cried Mordecai to him from the top, on observing his alarm, “ you will get up by the help of the God of Jacob.” He betook himself again to prayer, in which he continued for a much longer time than before his descent. When we got him in motion, he dangled very uncomfortably in the air, and complained much of the cutting of the rope near his armpits. By and by he became silent. We found it no easy matter to get him pulled up, as we had to keep the rope from the edge of the well, lest it should

asunder. When he came into our hands, he was unable to speak; and we laid him down on the margin of the well, that he might collect his breath. " Where is the bakshish?were the first words which he uttered, on regaining his faculty of speech. It was immediately forthcoming to the extent of about a sovereign, and to his fullest satisfaction. A similar sum we

snap

Never

2

a

divided among our Arab assistants. The book, from having been so long steeped in the water and mud below, was, with the exception of the boards, reduced to a mass of pulp. In our effort to recover it, we had ascertained the depth of the well, which is exactly seventy-five feet. Its diameter is about nine feet. It is entirely hewn out of the solid rock, and is a work of great labour. It bears marks about it of the greatest antiquity. “The well is deep," was the description given of it by the woman of Samaria to our Lord. It still, as now noticed, has the same character, although to a considerable extent it is perhaps filled with the stones which are thrown into it, to sound it, by travellers and pilgrims.DR WILSON.

a

[ocr errors]

OCEAN.

Oh! that the desert were my dwelling-place,
With one fair spirit for my minister,
That I might all forget the human race,
And, hating no one, love but only her!
Ye Elements !-in whose ennobling stir
I feel myself exalted— Can ye not
Accord me such a being ? Do I err
In deeming such inhabit many a spot ?
Though with them to converse can rarely be our lot.
There is a pleasure in the pathless woods,
There is a rapture on the lonely shore,
There is society, where none intrudes,
By the deep sea, and music in its roar :
I love not Man the less, but Nature more,
From these our interviews, in which I steal
From all I may be, or have been before,
To mingle with the Universe, and feel
What I can ne'er express, yet cannot all conceal.
Roll on, thou deep and dark blue Ocean-roll !
Ten thousand fleets sweep over thee in vain ;
Man marks the earth with ruin-his control
Stops with the shore ;—upon the watery plain
The wrecks are all thy deed, nor doth remain

A shadow of man's

ravage, save

his

own, When, for a moment, like a drop of rain, He sinks into thy depths with bubbling groan, Without a grave, unknell’d, uncoffin'd, and unknown. His steps are not upon thy paths,—thy fields Are not a spoil for him,—thou dost arise And shake him from thee; the vile strength he wields For earth’s destruction thou dost all despise, Spurning him from thy bosom to the skies, And send'st him, shivering in thy playful spray And howling, to his gods, where haply lies His petty hope in some near port or bay, And dashest him again to earth :—there let him lay. The armaments which thunderstrike the walls Of rock-built cities, bidding nations quake, And monarchs tremble in their capitals, The oak leviathans, whose huge ribs make Their clay creator the vain title take Of lord of thee, and arbiter of war : These are thy toys, and, as the snowy flake, They melt into thy yeast of waves, which mar Alike the Armada's pride, or spoils of Trafalgar. Thy shores are empires, changed in all save theeAssyria, Greece, Rome, Carthage, what are they? Thy waters wasted them while they were free, And many a tyrant since; their shores obey The stranger, slave, or savage ; their decay Has dried up realms to deserts : not so thou, Unchangeable save to thy wild waves' playTime writes no wrinkle on thine azure brow Such as creation's dawn beheld, thou rollest now. Thou glorious mirror, where the Almighty's form Glasses itself in tempests ; in all time, Calm or convulsed-in breeze, or gale, or storm Icing the pole, or in the torrid clime Dark-heaving ;-boundless, endless, and sublime The image of Eternity-the throne Of the Invisible ; even from out thy slime The monsters of the deep are made ; each zone Obeys thee; thou goest forth, dread, fathomless, alone.

And I have loved thee, Ocean ! and my joy
Of youthful sports was on thy breast to be
Borne, like thy bubbles, onward: from a boy
I wanton'd with thy breakers—they to me
Were a delight; and if the freshening sea
Made them a terror—'twas a pleasing fear,
For I was as it were a child of thee,
And trusted to thy billows far and near,
And laid my hand upon thy mane—as I do here.—BYRON.

TRACES OF OCEAN.

Was it the sound of the distant surf that was in mine ears, or the low moan of the breeze, as it crept through the neighbouring wood ? Oh, that hoarse voice of Ocean, never silent since time first began,—where has it not been uttered! There is stillness amid the calm of the arid and rainless desert, where no spring rises and no streamlet flows, and the long caravan plies its weary march amid the blinding glare of the sand, and the red unshaded rays of the fierce sun. But once and again, and yet again, has the roar of Ocean been there. It is his sands that the winds heap up; and it is the skeleton remains of his vassals,—shells, and fish, and the stony coral,—that the rocks underneath enclose. There is silence on the tall mountain peak, with its glittering mantle of snow, where the panting lungs labour to inhale the thin bleak air,—where no insect murmurs and no bird flies,—and where the eye wanders over multitudinous hilltops that lie far beneath, and vast dark forests that sweep on to the distant horizon, and along long hollow valleys where the great rivers begin. And yet once and again, and yet again, has the roar of Ocean been there. The elegies of his inore ancient denizens we find sculptured on the crags, where they jut from beneath the ice into the mist-wreath; and his later beaches, stage beyond stage, terrace the descending slopes. Where has the great destroyer not been, -the devourer of continents,—the blue foaming dragon, whose vocation it is to eat up the land ? His ice-floes have alike furrowed the flat steppes of Siberia and the rocky flanks of Schehallion; and his nummulites and fish lie embedded in great stones of the pyramids, hewn in the times of the old Pharaohs, and in rocky folds of Lebanon still

!

« PředchozíPokračovat »