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Some excavations in the side of the hills at a short distance are supposed to be the necrupolis of the city. It is a singular omission on the part of the Writer, that the name of the stream is not mentioned : possibly they were not able to ascertain it. It seems to correspond to the IVady Yabes of Burckhardt, in which we seem to have a nearer approach to the Jabbok of Scripture, than in Yarmack (Jarmouk) or in Zerka. We know not on what authority the Zerka is usually identified with the Jabbok : that the Hieromax may be the Jabbok, is merely a conjecture of Pococke's. It is now called Sheriat el Mandhour. Burckhardt mentions ruins at Beit el Ras, which lie was told were of large extent, but did not visit, an hour and a half out of the road between Erbad and Om Keis; and one hour and a half to the N. E. of Hebras, are the ruins of the ancient Abila, one of the towns of the Decapolis. Neither of these places appears to answer to the situation of the city described by Captain Mangles. If the stream they mention be the Yabes, and our etymological conjecture be admissible, we should be tempted to believe, that the nameless city they discovered, was no other than Pella itself, which D'Anville places on the Jabbok.
Djerash, supposed to be Geraza, our Travellers hold to be a much finer mass of ruins than Palmyra. It has been built on two sides of a valley, with a fine stream running through it. It is so fully described by Burckhardt, that we shall not stop to notice the remarks of our Authors. Its position does not at all agree with that given to Gerasa by D'Anville from the ancient authorities, who places it to the N. E. of the lake of Tiberias, forty miles to the N. W. of this site. But the modern name is considered as sufficient to identify it; although Capt. Mangles says, nothing but the similarity of names would lead one to suppose that the ruins at Djerash are Ge
rasa. Where the modern name answers to the old Hebrew name, the greatest stress, we think, may be laid on such resemblance; but the Roman' names have been in so few instances adopted and preserved by the natives, and in those instances, it has, for the most part been a new settlement that has retained its name, as at Cesarea, rather than a mere change of appellation) that we should be inclined to consider a coincidence between the Arabic and the classical names, unsup. ported by authorities, as merely accidental. If the Essa of Josephus be Gerasa, it would be difficult to reconcile its ancient with its modern appellation. It is quite evident, that any decision would be at present quite premature, with regard to the real situation of the ancient cities of the Decapolis. Szalt, which has been thought to be the ancient Amathus, Capt. Mangles supposes to be Machærus, where John the Baptist was beheaded. For this conjecture, we are probably indebted to their companion Mr. Bankes; but we wish some reason had been assigned. We are sometimes sadly perplexed with our worthy Captain's orthography. Having, however, only his ear to guide him, it is not surprising that he should have come no nearer to the original. Thus Kaluat (castle) el Rabbad is written Callah-el-Rubbat ; Djenne is spelt Eugen; Djelaad and Djelaoud (Gilead), are written Githud Gilhood; but what Kaffer Baiter and Bait Forage mean, we cannot conjecture. The last-mentioned would seem to promise good accommodation for man and horse. A considerable tract is assigned in the map, to the Benesuckher Arabs, and the name occurs perpetually in the text. It was some time before we recognised them as the tribe mentioned by Dr. Richardson, bearing the name of Ben Issachar, or, as Burckhardt spells it, Beni Szakher. It would have been easy, by means of Burckhardt and other authorities, to avoid these needless and perplexing variations.
At Jerusalem, our Travellers spent a month, but they have nothing to say about it: they refer us to Maundrell, through whose spectacles they looked at every thing. They represent the water of the Dead Sea to be as bitter and as buoyant as people have reported.'
• Those of our people who could not swim, floated on its surface like corks. On dipping the head in, the eyes smarted dreadfully, and we were much surprised to observe, on coming out of the lake, that the water did not evaporate from the body as is the case on emerging from fresh water, but adhered to the skin, and was greasy to the touche' p. 330.
The tour to Petra and round the Dead Sea, which occupies the fifth Letter, is in some respects the most interesting portion of the volume. It was the most adventurous expedition, and the travellers were fully repaid for their enterprise. Two Europeans only had ever been at either Kerek or Wady Mousa,Sheikh Ibrahim (Burckhardt) and Mr. Seetzen; and these were both dead. The party consisted of Mr. Legh with his attendants, Mr. Bankes with his, and Captains Irby and Mangles, mustering altogether eleven persons. So bad a character do the wandering tribes of the desert bear, that they were unable to obtain from any of the public authorities, either assistance or firmaun extending to this route. On entering the great plain at the end of the Dead Sea, they found the soil sandy, and perfectly barren. Even the wood which the Lake had thrown up at high-water-mark, was so impregnated with
salt, that it would not burn. Exclusive of the saline appearance left by the retiring waters, several large fragments of clear rock-salt were found lying about; and the sand-hill on the right of their track, was found composed partly of salt and partly of hardened sand.
• In many instances, the salt was hanging from cliffs in clear perpendicular points like icicles, and we observed numerous strata of that material of considerable thickness, having very little sand mixed with it. Strabo mentions that to the southward of the Dead Sea there are towns and cities built entirely of salt; and although such an account seems strange, yet, when we contemplated the scene before us, it did not seem improbable.'
Leaving the salt hill, their track led for an hour and a half across the barren flats of the back-water, 'now left dry by the • effects of evaporation,'* intersected by drains, some wet, and others dry. They then entered on a very prettily wooded country, covered with a rich variety of remarkable wild plants. Among the trees, they noticed various species of the acacia, the dwarf mimosa, the doom,' the tamarisk, the 'oschar,' and onecurious tree' the fruit of which resembled the currant in its growth, but with the colour of the plum: it has a pleas
ant, though strong aromatic taste, exactly resembling mus• tard, and, if taken in any quantity, produces a similar irrita.
bility in the nose and eyes to that which is caused by mus• tard. The leaves have the same pungent flavour as the fruit, but not so strong. The Authors suggest, that this, rather than the mustard-plant of the North, may be the tree alluded to in our Saviour's parable ; this being really a tree, the plant an annual not growing above five or six feet high. But it is clear, that the plant to which our Lord alludes as raised from the smallest of seeds, was not a tree, but “ the greatest of herbs" (naxarw), only becoming a tree (derdpor), or plant (fruter arbor. escens, Schil.), at its utmost growth. After crossing the Houssan, they proceeded along the foot of mountains, bounding the plains on the East. Their track, which was rugged and barren in the extreme, was strewed with innumerable fragnients of red and grey granite, grey, red, and black porphyry, serpentine, black basalt, breccia, and many other species, all from the neighbouring mountains; they are, however, said to be composed chiefly of sand-stone and bad marble. In refreshing
* They afterwards had an opportunity of observing the effect of the evaporation, arising from the Lake in broad transparent columns of vapour, not unlike water-spouts ill appearance, but very much larger.' (p. 447.)
contrast to this barren scene, they found the Wady el Derrah covered in profusion with the palm, acacia, aspine, and oleander in full flower and beauty, perfuming the whole place. The same rich vegetation clothed the banks of the river Souff Saffa. (qy. Szafszaf?) Kerek or Karrak-a common name, „says Burckhardt, in Syria-contains, according to that Traveller, about 400 Turkish and 150 Christian families; the latter, descendants chiefly of refugees from Jerusalem, Bethlehem, and Beit Djade. Our Authors suppose the numbers to be about equal. The Christians are on very good terms with the Turks, and appear to enjoy equal freedom. Within the castle, apparently of Mahommedan architecture, is a Christian church, ill constructed of small stones, with small narrow windows, a circular end, and arched front, like the house of St. Peter at Tiberias. As Godfrey of Boulogne took Kerek, (calling it Mons Regalis,/ the church is probably referrible to the days of the Crusaders. On the walls, there is an imperfect inscription in Gothic letters. The Christians are Greeks, the least observant of religious duties of any of that Church in Syria; and the place (under the name of Petras) is the see of a Greek bishop, who, of course, is a non-resident, living at Jerusalem, but visiting his diocese every five or six years. About a mile to the S.W. of the castle is a source, the name of which is a memorial of the occupation of this country by the Crusaders : it is called Ain-el-Frangee, or the Franks' Fountain.
Soon after leaving Kerek, they entered on a country of fine downs, interspersed with sites of towns on every eminence or spot convenient for the construction of one; and, as all the land is capable of cultivation, there can be little doubt that this now deserted country once presented a picture of fertility and prosperity. The Arabs reported to Volney, that, to the S.E. of the Lake Asphaltes, within three days' journey, there were upwards of 300 ruined towns absolutely deserted. Capt. Mangles thinks, that this must be the quarter alluded to by the Arabs, and that the statement was at least founded on fact.
In descending into the Wady-el-Hussein, the Travellers observed on their right, a great quantity of lava and black volcanic stone, which seemed to have issued from the neighbouring ridge. Further on, three dark volcanic eminences were distinguishable from the sand; and the lava that had streamed from them, formed a sort of island in the plain; while on the right of the road, was another volcanic mount, covered with scoriæ of a reddish colour, and extremely light. At Shobek is a church, the interior of which is in the pure Gothic 'style; the exterior has more of the Oriental. Å Latin in
scription in the architrave of the principal door, leaves no doubt that this was another of the works of the Frank kings' of Jerusalem. Shobek, with the great district surrounding it, is under the dominion of the shiekh Mahommed Abou Raschid. To this spirited young chief the Travellers were entirely indebted for being able to make their way to Wady Mousa, in spite of the determined opposition of the inhabitants of the village, who conceded the point at last with an ill grace, clearly through dread of the stronger party. Some hundred yards below the head of the stream, begin the outskirts of the vast Necropolis of Petra. The description of this most singular and interesting site is much too long to transcribe; but we must make room for a few extracts. The most remarkable tombs stand near the road, which follows the course of the brook. The first of these is cut in a mass of whitish rock, in some measure insulated.
• The centre represents a square tower with pilasters at the corner, and with several successive bands of frieze and entablature above; two low wings project from it at right angles, and present each of them a recess in the manner of a portico, which consists of two columns whose capitals have an affinity with the Doric order, between corresponding antæ ; there are, however, no triglyphs above. Three sides of a square area, are thus enclosed; the fourth has been shut in by a low wall and two colossal lions on each side ; all much de. cayed. The interior has been a place of sepulture for several bodies.'
The taste which prevails in the decoration of most of the façades of these excavations, is fantastical in the extreme; they are loaded with ornaments, in the Roman manner, but in • bad taste,' displaying an ' unmeaning richness and littleness • of conception. In one instance, upon a plain front without any other decoration than a single moulding, are set, in a recess, four tall and taper pyramids. The effect is singular and surprising, but combining too little with the rest of the elevation to be good. Our attention,' says Capt. M. ' was the . more attracted by this monument, as it presents, perhaps, • the only existing example of pyramids so applied; though we
read of them as placed in a similar manner on the summit of • the tombs of the Maccabees and of the Queen of Adiabene, • both in the neighbouring province of Palestine. As the sides of the valley become more precipitous and rugged, the large and lofty towers which are represented in relief on the lower part of the precipice, are formed, higher up, by the rock being cut down on all sides. The greater number of them present themselves to the high road, but others stand back in the wild