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MR. BUCKINGHAM'S ACCOUNT OF HIS VISIT
TO TIBERIAS. (From his “ Travels in Palestine," p. 458, et seq.) “AFTER ascending slowly for about two hours, we came suddenly in sight of the lake and town of Tiberias. We found our Ives again on the brow of a steep hill, facing to the eastward, and forming the western boundary of the hollow in which the lake is VOL., VI.
contained. The view from hence is grand and interesting. To the south, inclining easterly, the vale of the Jordan was distinctly open; to the south-west the rounded top of Tabor rose above the intervening hills; to the north, the lofty Libanus, the Gebel-el-Thelj, (Mountain of Snow,) or Gebel-el-Sheikh, (Mountain of the Chief,) of the Arabs, reared its snow-clad head; while the bare and yellow mountains of the eastern shore served but to give a brighter blue to the scarcely ruffled waters of the lake below. The town from hence has a more completely Moorish appear. ance,
from its high walls and circular towers, than any other I had yet seen in Palestine,
The waters, on whose western edge it stands, were as still as those of the Dead Sea, from being confined in a deep basin, and hemmed closely in by opposite ranges of hills. The scenery around possessed many features of grandeur, though destitute of wood and verdure ; and the whole, indeed, was such as to render our momentary halt there agreeable in the extreme.
6. On descending the hill, we observed a cister for water, its spring being now dry; and while the Muezzin * was calling to the prayers of El Assr, from the gallery of the mosque within the town, we en. tered it by the gate of the western wall. Taking a southern course through the town, we were conducted to the house of the Catholic Priest, and alighted there to halt for the night.
66 We found the Abuna + himself occupied in opening pods of cotton in the outer court; while about
* The public crier, who announces the hour of prayer.
+ This is the name generally given to Christiau Pastora throughout the Holy Land.
twenty children were bawling rather than reading Arabic, in a small dark room behind him. The mat, on which the Father sat, being sufficiently large to contain us both, I seated myself beside him ; but he neither rose, nor gave me any of the accustomed forms of salutation. The first question which he asked me, on my being seated, was, whether I was a Christian, and how I made the sign of the Cross. I replied, that I was an Englishman on my way to Damascus, and had thought that he would be glad to entertain me for a night on that consideration alone; but added, that if he felt any scruple at harbouring a heretic, (in which light the English are considered by all the Christians of the East,) I should most willingly with draw to seek some other shelter. His son then hinted to him, in a loose way, that though the English did not bow to the Pope, they were excellent people to deal with, for they had travelled all the world over to get the hidden treasures of ruined cities, and always paid twice as much as the people of any other nation for any service rendered to them. This seemed to reconcile the father so completely to my stay, that throughout the whole of the evening nothing was talked of but the English, their wealth, their wisdom, and proficiency in the black art, and the certainty of their being the greatest in this world, whatever fate they might be doomed to in the next.
Being desirous of supping on the fish of the lake, a person had been dispatched on the instant after our arrival to procure some; but after a search of two hours, he returned without being able to find any. This fine piece of water abounds with a great variety of excellent fish; but from the poverty, and, one must add, the ignorance and the indolence, of the people
who live on its borders, there is not a boat or a raft, either large or small, throughout its whole extent. Some three years since, a boat did exist here; but this being broken up from decay, has never been replaced; so that the new fish which are now and then taken, are caught by lines from the shore, nets rever being used.
" The conduct of the southern Arabs on the shores of the Yemen, forms a striking contrast in this parti. cular to that of their brethren in the north. Along all the shores of Arabia Felix are small rafts, called Catamarans, composed of only four or five rude logs of wood lashed together, on which fishermen go out for several miles against a strong wind and boisterous sea, and remain often a whole day and night half immersed in water to procure supplies of fish for the market.
" When the sun had set, we retired into an inner room, which the whole of the family inhabited, including the Abuna and his wife, the elder son Yusuf, his wife MARTIA, and the infant child IBRAHIM, with two grown boys, younger sons of the old man.
The whole of the space appropriated to this number was about ten feet long, by six broad; and in the same enclosure, on a lower level, was a stall for two cows, and a little place apart for three pigs. Besides this, were to be seen above little bala conies, like large breeding cages for birds, which appeared to be store-rooms or lockers for provisions. The whole
compass of the outer walls, which enclosed all these departments, was not a square of more than twelve feet the utmost. The roof was flat, and composed of branches of wood laid across rude beams, and covered by mortar which formed the terrace
above. The only ornament seen within, was the Cross daubed in red upon the walls, and repeated at every interval of space not otherwise occupied ; and even over the stall of the oxen, and the trough of the hogs, this emblem was conspicuously pourtrayed.
" The hour of supper arrived, and a bowl of boiled wheat and dûrra, with oil, was produced for the family. I was turning up my sleeves to wash my hands in preparation for the meal, when the old man asked me, whether we had no provisions in our sack. I replied, that we had only taken sufficient for the day, and had finished it at Sook-el-Khan, being assured by the friars of Nazareth that we should find every thing we could desire here. He then said, “You must purchase supper for yourselves. I replied, that we would not willingly intrude on his stock, and had there. fore sought to purchase fish at first; but that since rone could be procured, we should content ourselves with whatever might be found. Four eggs were then produced from a cupboard in the house ; but before they were broken, eight paras were demanded of me for them. I desired that their number might be doubled, and the remaining eight paras were also asked for, before they were produced. Six paras were then claimed for oil to fry them in, though this was poured out of the same jar from which the lamp was filled, and they seemed to think they had laid us under great obligations to their hospitality in merely fur. nishing us with bread and shelter. All this was so contrary to the behaviour of Arabs in general, and so directly opposite to that of the Mohammedans, and of the Bedouins in particular, that we were forcibly struck with it. We made a hearty supper, however; and the old A buna himself, after finishing his portiva