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DAMASCUS should be approached only one way, and that is from the west. The traveller who comes from that quarter passes over the great chain of Anti-Líbanus; he crosses the water-shed, and he finds himself following the course of a little stream flowing through a richly cultivated valley. The stream is the Baráda. It flows on; and the cultivation, which at its rise spreads far and wide along its banks, nourished by the rills which feed it, gradually is contracted within the limits of its single channel. The mountains rise round it absolutely bare. The peaks of mount Sinai are not more sterile than these Syrian ranges. But the river winds through them, visible everywhere by its mass of vegetation-willow, poplars, hawthorn, walnut, hanging over a rushing volume of crystal water—the more striking from the contrast of the naked desert in which it is found.
One of the strongest impressions left by the East is the connection between verdure and running water. But never have I seen so wonderful a witness to this power, as in the view on which we are now entering. The further we advance the contrast becomes more and more clear—the mountains more bare, the green of the river-bed more deep and rich. At last a cleft opens in the rocky hills between two steep cliffs; up the side of one of these cliffs the road winds; on the summit of the cliff there stands a rugged chapel. Through the arches of that chapel, from the very edge of the mountain-chain, you look down on the plain of Damascus. It is here seen in its widest and fullest perfection, with the visible explanation of the whole of its great and enduring charm, that which it must have had, when it was the solitary seat of civilization in Syria, and which it will have as long as the world lasts.
The river, with its green banks, is visible at the bottom, rushing through the cleft; it bursts forth, and, as if in a moment, scatters over the plain through a circle of thirty miles, the same verdure which has hitherto been confined to its single channel. It is like the bursting of a shell—the eruption of a volcano—but an eruption not of death, but of life.
Far and wide in front extends the level plain, its horizon bare, its lines of surrounding hills bare, all bare away on the road to Palmyra and Bagdad. In the midst of this plain lies at your feet the vast lake or island of deep verdure, walnuts and apricots. waving above, corn and grass below; and in the midst of this mass of foliage rises, striking out its white arms of streets hither and thither, and its white minarets above the trees which embosom them, the City of Damascus.
On the right towers the snowy height of Hermon, overlooking the whole scene. Close behind are the sterile limestone mountains; so that you stand literally between the living and the dead. And the ruined arches of the ancient chapel, which serve as a framework to the prospect, still preserve the magnificent story which, whether truth or fiction, is well worthy of this sublime view. Here, hard by these sacred heights, consecrated by the caverns and tombs of a thousand
Mussulman saints, the prophet is said to have stood, while yet a camel-driver from Mecca, and after gazing on the scene below, to have turned away without entering the city: “Man,” he said, “ can have but one paradise, and my paradise is fixed above.”—Stanley's “Sinai and Palestine.”
The shades of night were falling fast,
Alpine village passed
His brow was sad; his eye beneath
Flashed like a falcion from its sheath,
Above, the spectral glaciers shone,
“Try not the pass!" the old man said,
“Dark lowers the tempest overhead, The roaring torrent is deep and wide!” And loud that clarion voice replied,
“Oh stay!" the maiden said, "and resti
this breast!” A tear stood in his bright blue eye, But still he answered, with a sigh,
“Beware the pine-tree's withered branch!
Beware the awful avalanche!”
At break of day, as heavenward
The pious monks of Saint Bernard
A traveller, by the faithful hound,
Half-buried in the snow was found,
There, in the twilight cold and gray,
Lifeless, but beautiful, he lay, And from the sky, serene and far, A voice fell, like a falling star,
Longfellow. THE FOOT-BALL MATCH AT BARFORD
The battle had been waged with very equal success for half an hour, the “Ins“ having scored four games, and the “Outs” the same number. This result had rather surprised the bystanders, who had anticipated a decided superiority on the part of the “Outs,” that side being the strongest and most experienced in the game. Hope's play was generally thought to have caused this unlooked for equality between the sides. He had certainly shown unusual energy and skill, and, notwithstanding the awkward feeling respecting him, had repeatedly called forth shouts of applause from the spectators. He had carried out his resolution of the previous night, by telling Bloomfield in a few simple words before breakfast, that he intended to play; and then took no more notice of the matter, until he appeared in the white jersey trimmed with green, which, for many a generation past, had been the received colours of the “Ins.” He found that his anticipations of a cold or uncivil reception were without foundation. Norton and Story no sooner saw him appear on the field, than they went frankly up to him, and, shaking him by the hand, thanked him for consenting to take part in the match. They were followed immediately by Brook and Shaw; and, with some little show of embarrassment, by Hooper and the others. Hope received them with equal cordiality. He was a good deal moved at this unexpected reception. It went far to prove how unfounded had been many of his fancies respecting the feelings of his schoolfellows towards him; and how many needless mortifications he had at various times caused himself. He was resolved that he would requite the good-will evinced to him by the “Ins,” by playing