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HISTORY OF PALESTINE.

roads, even though taking all the precautions against them that are sufficient in ordinary times. I had an idea of starting with a trusty Arab, who was to procure me dresses similar to their's; but, the Arabs being extremely spare, the fear of being betrayed by my embonpoint caused me to relinquish my project. I could not persuade myself that the length and thickness of my beard, any more than my tanned complexion, would sufficiently disguise and screen me from danger.

Before I give you an account of my excursions, my dear friend, I think it right to note down here whatever I have been able to collect most likely to convey to you an accurate notion of Palestine, and particularly of Jerusalem. The details, on which I am about to enter, will spare you the trouble of researches which you might otherwise be tempted to make on this subject.

Palestine is a province of Asia, thus named from the Palestines or Philistines,* a powerful people, who came originally from Egypt, and occupied that part of the country extending along the Mediterranean, from Gaza on the south to Lydda on the north. In ancient times it bore the name of Canaan, the fourth son of Ham, and father of a numerous posterity. It was afterwards called the Land of Promise, because God had promised it to the patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; then the Land of Israel, and finally Judea. This last name was given to it after the return from the Babylonian captivity, because then the tribe of Judah was the only one that formed a body, which was subsequently joined by the

According to the interpreters, the word Palestines or Philistines signifies foreigners.

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wrecks of the other tribes, whose territories were almost entirely occupied by the Samaritans, the Idumeans, and the Philistines.

Since the coming of Jesus, it has been more commonly called the Holy Land, on account of the ineffable miracles wrought there by God; because the Saviour of the world was born there, lived there, died there, and there rose from the dead; because its soil was sprinkled with his sweat, with his blood; and because there is, one may say, not a place in it which he has not marked by the prodigies of his infinite charity.

Before the arrival of the Hebrews, this country was governed by Canaanitish kings, who exercised absolute power in their respective towns. When Joshua had conquered it, he governed it as the lieutenant of the Lord. Joshua was succeeded by the Elders, to whom the supreme authority belonged for fifteen years. After this time the Israelites fell into a sort of anarchy, which lasted seven or eight years, and were then governed by judges, for three hundred and seventeen years; and lastly by kings, the first of whom was Saul, till the Babylonian captivity, a period of time comprehending five hundred and seven years.

On the return from captivity, Judea was subject to the kings of Persia, then to Alexander the Great, and to the kings of Syria and Egypt, his successors.

The Maccabees, after they had defended their religion by force of arms, and re-established the affairs of their nation, continued for one hundred and thirty five years in possession of the supreme power, and lost it during the reign of Herod the Great On the death of that

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prince, the Romans became absolute masters of Judea, and the kingdom which it formed was utterly destroyed.

One cannot add any thing to the idea which the Scripture furnishes of this country. It is there described as the most beautiful and the most fertile in the world; yet, at this day, it is in general uncultivated and barren. You meet with whole plains, upon which grows nothing but a few wild plants, shooting up from amidst heaps of stones; and bald hills, parched by the sun, where the goat can scarcely find a scanty sustenance.

Modern Impiety has not failed to make the present state of these parts an argument against the veraci the sacred book, and audaciously to insult the spirit of truth by which it was dictated. She has eyes to see, and an understanding to comprehend, the sometimes terrible effects of the blows struck by human justice. She needs no explanation how it has happened that, on the site of the palaces, the pleasure-grounds, the gardens of a great criminal, nothing is left but ruins, nothing grows but thorns and briars. She will tell you both the crime and the punishment; you will learn of her, whose sentence condemned the culprit, whose hand overthrew those magnificent mansions, laid waste those grounds : all this she knows perfectly well; she, who, all-powerful for a moment, and giving to her excesses the name of justice, carried desolation to such a length, and piled such ruins one upon another : but when the question concerns divine justice, she can see nothing, comprehend nothing. To her the cross is an object of derision; the great name, before which every creature ought to bow the knee, excites her contempt. In such dispositions,

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wilfully blind, how should she comprehend that an accursed land, that the country of a guilty and reprobate nation, cannot now exhibit the beautiful spectacle of that delicious garden, flowing with milk and honey, which the father of the family gave to his then beloved children, because they had not yet steeped themselves in crime? Let her come hither, like me; let her bring with her somewhat of that love of truth, upon which people who will not any longer be Christians still pride themselves, and I venture to say that she will be obliged to do herself violence, if she does not recognize the anathema pronounced upon a land where was perpetrated the most execrable of the crimes that could fill the world with horror, upon a land where the blood of the Son of God was demanded with loud cries, and sacrilegiously spilt ; everywhere she will perceive yet subsisting vestiges of eternal Justice, which at once awaken recollections of the sufferings of the august Victim, and of the vengeance which followed them.

Others, my dear friend, would perhaps strive to explain to you, humanly, how this land, formerly so fertile, is become barren, and now presents an aspect so melancholy and so dreary; and I know not exactly what the slanderers of the holy Scriptures would have to reply to them. But how, in fact, can he who has any knowledge of history be surprised that it is thus? What country is there in the world, where fire and sword have committed greater ravages ? What country is there in the world, where more blood has been spilled, more carnage taker place? What country is there that has suffered more by war, by famine, and by pestilence? ... And at this mo

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ment, when I am writing these lines, am I not myself surrounded by these calamities? There is no doubt that, crushed by them, this country will become wholly wild and uncultivated. The springs are disappearing beneath ruins; the soil which covered the mountains, and which was kept up by the labours of an immense population, is rolling down into the plains; the hills, on which once grew the mulberry and the fig, now display nothing but bare and arid rocks; the spots which received a certain degree of fertility from regular and successive supplies of mould, now exhibit only a few scattered plants of broom, and a few box-trees that have struck root in the clefts of the rocks.

And, once more, that which most contributes to render Palestine a desert is the despotic government under which it groans, and the motto of which is destruction. It cannot be too often repeated – the Porte daily puts up this wretched country to auction : the pacha who offers most becomes its tyrant. Master of the life of the Arab as well as of his camel, of his horse as well as of his tent, he marks his passage by exactions alone. At sight of his satellites coming to levy the tribute, the population of whole villages abandon their ruined dwellings; and the poor oppressed inhabitants choose rather to die of want, in caverns of the rocks, than to expire under the bastinado of the soldier, who, on his part, enraged at seeing his prey escape, revenges himself by cutting down the olive-tree of the fugitive whom he could not overtake.

But here again, my dear friend, I cannot see any thing purely human. This despotism, this tyranny, this ava

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