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German, and Bohemian languages, yet none of them had any knowledge of these characters, which have, nevertheless, been cut into the hard rock with the greatest industry, in a place where there is neither water, nor anything to be gotten to eat. It is probable, therefore, that these unknown characters contain some very secret mysteries, and that they were engraved either by the Chaldeans, or some other persons long before the coming of Christ.” The letters appeared to us to be closely related to the Syriac, Cufic, and Hebrew, and, like those of the Shemitic languages, to read from right to left. The occurrence in connexion with them of the cross in various forms, indicates that their origin should be attributed to the early Christian pilgrims who passed through this line of Wádís to Mount Sinai and the other sacred localities of the Peninsula. They are first mentioned by Cosmas Indicopleustes, about the year of Christ 536, who supposes them to have been written by the Israelites on their journey through the wilderness; and they have been noticed by many modern travellers. Specimens are given of them by Mr. Wortley Montagu in the Philosophical Transactions for 1766. Messrs. Coutelle and Rozière, the French engineers, copied seventy-five of them; and Mr. Grey, who visited them in 1820, has published in the Transactions of the Royal Society of Literature, a hundred and eighty-seven of them, of which nine are in Greek, and one in Latin. They have exercised the ingenuity of the learned; and Professor Beer of Leipsig has, after much labour, succeeded in deciphering them. They are to be found, not only in Wádí Mukatteb, but in all the principal Wádís of the Peninsula on the route to Mount Sinai. Specimens of them were observed by Burckhardt on the heights of Jebel Serbál; and what is most remarkable, we found one or two of them on the rocks at Petra. As some of my readers may not have seen any of them, I insert copies of one or two of them, which we ourselves took, in the second volume of this work, and add the alphabet as made out by Beer, which, I believe, has not hitherto appeared in any English publication. Fac-similes, I think, should be taken of the whole of them, similar to those which we have procured of the inscriptions on the cave temples of India. A couple of gentlemen pitching their tents for a fortnight in the valley, would be able to carry off the whole of them in a correct form.'-Vol. i. pp. 184-187.
Our next move with our travellers shall be up the ascent which gave
them their first view of Mount Sinai. • The ascent is rugged and tortuous. Sometimes we had to push our way through among large granite boulders and detached rocks, of an enormous size, threatening to roll upon us, and crush us to annihilation. At other times, we had to creep warily along narrow terraces without any shelving in front, afraid that we might take a leap downwards to the depth of destruction. We did not, however, find the ascent so difficult as some of the descriptions of it which we had read gave us reason to expect. Among the precipitous defiles in the western Gháts of India, we had frequently had greater exertion to make, and
caution to observe, both in riding and walking. We noticed the inscriptions in the Wádí Mukatteb and Greek characters observed by Niebuhr, Burckhardt, and others. They occur at three or four places, and some of them are now well nigh obliterated. We got to the summit in less than two hours, climbing up almost the whole of the way on foot. We had still a narrower defile before us for a quarter of an hour, after we got to the highest point; but it began to expand as we advanced. A few palm trees and green bushes were tokens of the possibility, amidst the awful desolation which the heights on all sides presented to our view. The first snow which I had seen for fifteen years, covered the peaks and filled the crevices of Jebel Salsal-Zeit in our front.
On a sudden, when we had deflected a little to the left hand, a broad quadrangular plain, but of much greater length than breadth, lay before us.
It is bounded at its farthest extremity by a mountain of surpassing height, grandeur, and terror: and this was the very“ mount of God,” where he stood when he descended in fire, and where rested the cloud of his glory, from which he spoke “ all the words of the law.” The plain itself was the Wádí er-Ráhah, the “ Valley of Rest,” where stood the whole congregation of the sons and daughters of Israel, when gathered together before the Lord. As of old, the everlasting mountains, by which it was bounded on every side, were the walls, and the expanse of heaven itself the canopy, of this great temple. Entered within its court, so sacred in its associations, we felt for a time the curiosity of the traveller lost in the reverence and awe of the worshipper. Never before, perhaps, were we so strangely affected as in this wondrous locality. Our emotions were then incapable of analysis, as they are now of description. I trust they were more than excited by the contemplation of past realities and enduring solemnities—that they were directed Godward by the great Spirit of truth himself.'-Vol. i. pp. 209–211.
One of Dr. Wilson's companions thus describes the summit of Sinai itself:
We all, of course, ascended Jebel Músá, or Sinai—to its very summit, which is disfigured by two small chapels, built by, I know not whom, nor have patience to find out. The
works of man are in miserable, pitiful contrast—especially in such a place—with the sublime works of nature. One of our party was knocked up,—he, strange to say, fresh from England,—in consequence of the rarefaction of the air. Dr. W. and I stood it well, it being—as far as rarefaction is concerned-nearer our Indian climate. We felt as we ascended, a delightful exhilaration of spirits. The top was covered in many places with snow, which I had not seen for eleven years, nor Dr. Wilson for fifteen! We had a race up the hill to try who should first reach itmuch to the amusement of our English friends—to whom it was by no means such a rarity. Strange that the first snow we should have seen for so long a period should have been on the summit of Sinai!
The view from the top—the very summit remember—for I think you were under the impression that it was inaccessible, is very grand-on all sides, utter, awful desolation. No one, I think, can doubt that Jebel Músá is the real Sinai—with the Bible in his hands every hing appears to correspond, and be consistent in itself. I traversed the whole range, for there are several peaks and ridges of the same kind of rock granite.' -Vol. i.
228—note. Dr. Wilson's reflections on the same spot will find their response in the heart of every Christian placing himself, as he may do by imagination, in the same circumstances.
• When we stood on the pinnacle of Jebel Músá, we all thought that we might be on, or near, the spot where Moses received the tables of the law; and that in the hollow of the shoulder of the mount below us, where stands the chapel of Elijah, or in its neighbourhood, Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and the seventy elders may have stood, when, after ascending a portion of the mountain, they saw the personal manifestation of the God of Israel, and worshipped afar off. The belief which we had, with its wondrous associations, tended, I trust, to solemnize our minds. On any part of the summits of Sinai, however, we could not, and would not have divested ourselves of these associations. We sought to yield to their influence. The whole scene before us seemed in itself so terrific and sublime, that it appeared to us as if formed by Omnipotence, and selected by Omniscience, for the express purpose of being the platform from which His holy, and righteous, and good law, so immovable in its foundations, exceeding broad in its requisitions, and terrible in its sanctions, could be most advantageously proclaimed to the children of men. “God,” said Moses to the Israelites, “is come to prove you, that his fear may be before your faces, that ye sin not." The very locality itself inspires fear. For a considerable time, we gave ourselves, in the view of it, to meditation and prayer, and the perusal of the Divine Word. Some of us read the words of the law in the language in which it was delivered; and never, perhaps, before were we so struck with its reasonableness, authority, comprehensiveness, and holiness, as requiring the recognition, worship, and service of the only God, with the love of the whole heart, and the cultivation of respect, mercy, purity, honesty, truth, and contentment, in all our desires and dealings connected with our fellow-men. Shall I add, that our own consciences condemned us, in the view of its requisitions; and that, even while we prayed that they might be engraved on the fleshly tablets of our hearts, we turned our eyes from Sinai to Calvary that we might have hope? On the sacrificial altar of God alone we could see the law vindicated and magnified, and mercy and grace revealed.'— Vol. i. pp. 225-227.
The travel of eleven days brought the author and his party through the Great Desert, by Mount Hor, to Petra, the city of the Rock.' We should have been pleased to have extracted
Dr. Wilson's account of the ascent of that memorable eminence, where the venerable Aaron was ' gathered to his people ;' but we must pass to the valley of Petra and Mount Seir. Of this extraordinary valley many accounts have been recently published. The passage in which Dr. Wilson compares its excavations with similar works in India is instructive.
* Referring in general to the excavations which we have now noticed I may be excused for hinting at a comparison of them with the works of a similar character, which I have frequently visited in the west of India. As efforts of architectural skill, those of Petra undoubtedly excel those of the Hindús, which they also exceed in point of general extent, if we except the wonderful works at Verula or Ellora. In individual magnitude they far fall short of many of the cave temples, collegiate halls, and monastic cells of the farther east. Their interest, too, is wholly exterior; while that of those of India, with the exception of the great Brahmanical temple of Kailas, and the porticoes of the Buddhist Vihárs of Sashti and Karlí
, is principally in the multitudinous decorations and fixtures, and gigantic mythological figures of the interior. The sculptures and excavations of Petra have been principally made by individuals, in their private capacity, for private purposes, and the comparatively limited amount of workmanship about them has permitted this to be the case; while most of those of India, intended for public purposes, and requiring an enormous expenditure of labour and wealth, have mostly been begun and finished by sovereign princes and religious communities. At Petra, we have principally the beauty of art applied often legitimately to subdue the terrors of nature in perhaps the most singular locality on the face of the globe, and the cunning of life stamping its own similitude on the mouth of the grave, to conceal its loathsomeness; but in India we have debasing superstition, enshrining itself in gloom, and darkness, and mystery, in order to overawe its votaries, and to secure their reverence and prostration. The moralist, on looking into the empty vaults and tombs of Idumea, and seeing that the very names of “the kings and counsellors of the earth which constructed these desolate places for themselves” are forgotten, exclaims, in the language which we have already quoted, “They are destroyed from morning to evening; they perish for ever without any regarding it. Doth not their excellency in them go away? they die even without wisdom." In entering into the dreary and decaying temples and shrines of India, he thinks of that day when “a man shall cast his idols of silver and his idols of gold, which they made each one for himself to worship, to the moles and to the bats; to go into the clefts of the rocks, and into the tops of the ragged rocks, for fear of the Lord and for the glory of his majesty, when he ariseth to shake terribly the earth.” – Vol. i. pp.
324-326. Of the exact accordance between the present state of Petra and the surrounding country, and the predictions of the Hebrew prophets concerning them, much has been written, Nor can
any ingenuous student of the subject fail to see, that the once strangely improbable things foretold of the land of Edom have, to a large extent, come literally to pass. The crowded place has become a wilderness, and the busy city as a deserted sepulchre. It is with the following song upon his lips that our author emerges from the barrenness and ruin of the desert amidst the verdure and beauty of the south of Judea.
“The thick mists and heavy dews of this morning were decided indications to us that we had escaped from the dreadful drought of the desert, and entered on the fertile elevated plains of the south of Judah. The light soil around us, though presenting nothing like the carpet of emerald green, which we see in more northern climes, was both delightful and refreshing to the eye. The grass, which was shooting out in separate stalks, not unlike rye, though comparatively sparse, was intermingled with wild oats and innumerable beautiful aromatic flowers and shrubs, many of which were in their fullest blow. The wild daisy and tulip, and a species of clover, though not the most striking in themselves, recalled to our remembrance the pastoral fields, so long removed from our view, but which we had so often trodden in mirthful glee “when life's bosom was young.” We felt exhilarated to a degree which no one can imagine, who has not been in circumstances similar to our own. The scene to us, after a pilgrimage of forty days in the great and terrible wilderness, the “shadow of death,” was truly as life from the dead. We felt as if the larks, which were offering their orisons to the God of nature, were sympathizing with our feelings. And then the Scriptural associations of this charming locality! Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob—the plain men dwelling in tents, but the great patriarchs of the people wonderful from the beginning—and David, the sweet singer of Israel, passed before us, with their flocks and herds, in all their pastoral simplicity, and with all their benignant piety. Most interesting was it to us to feast our eyes on the very works of God, which, under the guidance of his Spirit, nursed their pure and elevated devotion. That language, which was the fruit of their own inspiration, we found alone adequate to the expression of our praise. Such lyrics as the hundred and fourth psalm were pregnant with new meaning, and had to us a beauty and freshness such as we had never before perceived or enjoyed.? —Vol.i. pp. 344, 345.
In a subsequent page, Dr. Wilson gives us some intimation of the feeling with which the recent political changes in Syria are regarded by the Arabs, and by the natives of that country.
In the neighbourhood of these ruins we found many scattered bones, and nearly complete human skeletons, the mortal remains of some of Ibráhím Páshá's troops, which were dreadfully harassed by the Arabs on their retirement from Syria by the route extending from the Ghor, south of the Dead Sea, to Gaza, in the beginning of 1871. It was Ibrahim's boast, that during his government of Syria, for Muhammad 'Ali, he