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THE RIVER JORDAN AND THE DEAD SEA.
As to the pillar of salt into which Lot's wife was turned, the existence of which has been recorded by many traditions, and of which so many travellers have heard vague reports from the natives; it is one of the most remarkable discoveries of our Expedition, that a pillar of salt does exist, which is, without doubt, that to which the native reports refer, and which, or one like which, may have formed the basis of the old traditions. That this pillar, or any like it, is or was that into which Lot's wife was turned, is another question, which it is not needful here to discuss. The word rendered " a pillar," denotes generally any fixed object; and that rendered "salt," denotes also bitumen; and the plain significancy of the text would therefore seem to be, that she was slain by the fire and smoke, and sulphureous vapor; and her body being pervaded and enveloped by the bituminous and saline particles, lay there a stiffened and shapeless mass. The text appears to mear no more; but whether this mass may not have formed the nucleus of a mound, or even of a pillar of the same substance, forming as it were the unhonored grave of this unbelieving woman, is a question we are not called upon to consider. If the text re66 a pillar of salt," quired us to understand literally we should know that it existed, and should think it likely that it exists still, and the question would be whether this, which our travellers have found, is that pillar or not. We should probably think not; for although its place is in what must have been the general locality of this visitation, yet if Zoar, to which the fugitives were escaping, has been correctly identified (as we doubt not) in Zuweirah, it is difficult to find this place for the pillar, upon the route thereto, from any spot which Sodom can be supposed to have occupied. Besides this pillar is upon a hill, whereas the visitation evidently befell Lot's wife in the plain. The following is the account of it which Lieut. Lynch gives
Not a word is here said respecting the connection of this pillar with Lot's wife; but in a note it is pointed out that "a similar pillar is mentioned by Josephus, who expresses his belief of its being the identical one into which Lot's wife had been transformed." This is cautious and judicious. Montague's sailor, however, to whom this sort of thing was specially suited, speaks with less reserve; and we remember that this portion of his book had a run through the press in the United States, having been communicated by the publishers before the work appeared. It was well chosen for the purpose of exciting the curiosity of the public for the disclosures the book was to contain. After a somewhat bald description of the pillar, the writer proceeds, and informs us that it was sixty feet high and forty feet in circumference. He then goes on:
We cannot suppose that Lot's wife was a person so large that her dimensions equalled that of the column. Many think that the statue of Lot's wife was equal to the pillar of salt which the Bible speaks of, let that pillar be whatever it may, and whatever its size. They will not probably credit that this is the pillar; their preconceived notions have much to do with the matter; and they would have everybody-Americans and Syrians alikethink she was at once transformed into a column of very fine grained, beautifully white salt, about five feet or a few inches in height, and in circumference that of a middle-aged woman of the nineteenth century. Be that as it may, no two minds have, perhaps, formed exactly the same opinion on this matter who have not visited the spot. But here we it is really of solid rock-salt, one mass of crystallizaare, around this immense column, and we find that tion. It is in the vicinity which is pointed out in the Bible in relation to the matter in question, and it appears to be the only one of its kind here; and the Arabs of the district, to [by] whom this pillar is pointed out as being that of Lot's wife, [must believe this to be] the identical pillar of salt to which the Bible has reference; the tradition having been handed down from each succeeding generation to To our astonishment, we saw, on the eastern side their children, as the Americans will hand down to of Usdum, one third the distance from its north ex- succeeding generations the tradition of Bunker's treme, a lofty, round pillar, standing apparently de- Hill Monument in Boston. My own opinion on the tached from the general mass, at the head of a deep, matter is, that Lot's wife having lingered behind, narrow, and abrupt chasm. We immediately pulled in disobedience to God's express command, given in for the shore, and Dr. Anderson and I went up in order to ensure her safety; that, while so lingerand examined it. The beach was a soft, slimy mud, ing, she became overwhelmed in the descending encrusted with salt, and a short distance from the fluid, and formed the model or foundation for this water, covered with saline fragments, and flakes of extraordinary column. If it be produced by combitumen. We found the pillar to be of solid salt, mon, by natural causes, it is but right to suppose capped with carbonate of lime, cylindrical in front, that others might be found of a similar description. and pyramidal behind. The upper or rounded part One is scarcely able to abandon the idea that i is about forty feet high, resting on a kind of oval stands here as a lasting memorial of God's punish pedestal, from forty to sixty feet above the level of ing a most deliberate act of disobedience, commit the sea. It slightly decreases in size upwards, ted at a time when he was about to show distin crumbles at the top, and is one entire mass of crys-guishing regard for the very person.-Pp. 201 tallization. A prop or buttress connects it with the 202. mountain behind, and the whole is covered with debris of a light stone color. Its peculiar shape is attributable to the action of the winter rains. The Arabs had told us, in vague terms, that there was to be found a pillar somewhere upon the shores of the sea, but their statements in all other respects had proved so unsatisfactory, that we could place no reliance on them.
We were almost prepared to expect that this writer would shine among those who profess to Even he, however, does not go to have seen below the waters the ruins of the sub merged cities. this extent; but, instead, he treats us with a very elaborate picture of the great scene of their destruction, all the outlines of which are amusingly
filled up with details which could only be true of Tried the relative density of the water of this New York, or of some other great cities invested sea and of the Atlantic; the latter from 25 deg. N. with all the circumstances of modern art and civ-latitude and 52 deg. W. longitude; distilled water being as 1. The water of the Atlantic was 1.02, and of this sea 1.13. The last dissolved the water of the Atlantic ; and distilled water of its weight of salt; the salt used was a little damp. On leaving the Jordan, we carefully noted the draught of the boats. With the same loads they drew one inch less water when afloat upon this sea than in the river.-P. 377.
Of the experiments in bathing, little is added to those erewhile so graphically recorded by Mr. We susStephens in his Incidents of Travels. pect, indeed, that Mr. Montague has drawn somewhat upon the pages of that lively traveller. Stephens says, "It was ludicrous to see one of the horses. As soon as his body touched the
Among the other traditions of the lake are those which speak of the peculiar density and saline qualities of the waters; that, from the buoyancy imparted to them by this density, bodies could not sink in them; that, from the ingredients they hold in solution, no animal life could exist in these waters; and that, from the pestiferous effluvia, no birds are found near the lake, and that such as attempt to fly across fall dead upon the surface. As to the density of the waters, it is said by Josephus that Vespasian tried the experiment of tying the hands of some criminals behind their backs, and throwing them into the lake, when they floated like corks upon the surface. This was, water he was afloat, and turned over on his side; must be admitted, not a very sagacious experi- he struggled with all his force to preserve his ment, the position of the hands behind the back, equilibrium, but the moment he stopped moving whereby the dangerous weight of the arms is sup- he turned over on his side, and almost on his back, ported by the water, being the most favorable for kicking his feet out of water, and snorting with floating safely in any waters. This, therefore, terror." This is closely imitated by Montague, could not prove that bodies would not sink; yet who writes, "An experiment with an ass and a being thought to prove that, or to have been in horse was also made. They were separately led tended to prove it, Dr. Pococke's assurance that into the sea, and when the water came in contact he not only swam but dived in the water, was with the body of the animals, it was found heavier thought to show either that the experiment had than the body itself, and consequently supported not been correctly stated, or that the water had, i it upon the surface. The legs of the animals bethe course of ages, become more diluted than at ing rendered useless, were brought upon the surthe time the experiment was made. This, indeed, face, and they were thrown upon their side, is one of the points in which tradition has not erred. From the impregnation of saline and bitu- plunging and snorting, puzzled by their novel position."-P. 219. Now, Lieut. Lynch, in reminous matters, this water is greatly heavier than porting the same experiment, expressly says, that that of the ocean. This has been shown by many the animals were not turned on their sides; and travellers for a hundred and fifty years past, and he is at a loss to account for Stephens' statement, scarcely needs the confirmation which our explor- but by supposing that the animal was in that case ers afford. Their long stay on the lake enabled unusually weak. He admits, indeed, "that the them, however, to put together a greater number animals turned a little on one side," but adds, that of practical illustrations of the fact. We will put they did not lose their balance." A similar experiment was made at another time with a horse, which "could with difficulty keep itself upright." In bathing himself, the commander says, "With great difficulty I kept my feet down; and when I laid [lay] upon my back, and drawing up my knees placed my hands upon them, I rolled immediately over." We fancy that we should have rolled over" in any water, or even on land, in making that experiment. But, however, the buoyancy of this water is unquestionable; and it is clear that both man and beast may not only roll over, but roll over with impunity upon it. So in Mantague's book we read—
a few of them together from both books. Some of the particulars almost suggest the idea of a sea of molten metal, still fluid, though cold. The sailor, who took his share in rowing, is most sensible of one of the effects which his commander less notices—the unusual resistance of the waves to the progress of the boat, and the force of their concus
sion against it. There was a storm of wind when the lake was first entered; and, says this writer, "the waves, dashing with fury against the boat, reminded its bold navigators of the sound and force of some immense sledge-hammers, when wielded by a Herculean power." Again, he dwells on "the extraordinary buoyancy of the waters, from the fact of our boats floating considerably higher than on the Jordan, with the same weight in them; and the greater weightiness of the water, from the terrible blows which the opposing waves dealt upon the advancing prows of the boat."
was another circumstance resulting from this density, noticed by the commander, that when the sea rolled, the boats took in much water from the crests of the wave circling over the sides. Before quitting the lake, Lieutenant Lynch
Most of the men have bathed in its waters, and found them remarkably buoyant, so that they float with perfect ease upon it, and could pick a chicken, or read a newspaper at pleasure while so floating; in fact, it was difficult to get below the surface.
These, certainly, are rather luxurious ideas for the Dead Sea-floating at ease, without fear of drowning, upon a soft water-bed, picking a chicken and reading a newspaper. Nevertheless, this like other luxuries has its penalties-for afterwards
We noticed, after landing at Usdum, that, in the space of an hour, our very foot-prints upon the beach were coated with crystallization.-Montague, p. 207.
we read, "After being in it some few hours it iterranean and Atlantic Oceans, but of a darkish takes off all the skin, and gives one the miser- brown color, and have the same taste as the seaables;' on washing in it, it spreads over the body water, although it seldom distributes its waves over them.-Montague, p. 186. a disagreeable oily substance, with a prickly smarting sensation." Again-"Another peculiarity was, that when the men's hands became wet with it in rowing, it produced a continual lather, and even the skin is oily and stiff, having a prickly sensation all over it." Hence they washed with delight, when opportunities offered, in the freshwater streams that came down to the sea.-P. 181.
We had quite a task to wash from our skin all the uncomfortable substances which had clung to us from the Dead Sea, for our clothes and skin had become positively saturated with the salt water.P. 189.
A book of a large octavo size, being dipped in the water, either by accident or otherwise, resisted every attempt made to dry it. I have subsequently seen it in the oven of the ship's galley on several occasions, but without any permanent effect.Mantague, p. 224.
Now, as to the non-existence of living things in the water. This tradition, and that respecting the buoyancy of the water, seem to be those alone that are fully true. That creatures from the But although thus unpleasant, acrid, and greasy, fresh-water streams that pour into the lake should we are assured by Captain Lynch that the water is die in water so essentially different-so salt, so perfectly inodorous. And he ascribes the noxious dense, so bitter-was to be expected; but that smells which pervade the shores, not, as Molyneux this condition of the water should be fatal to all supposed, to the lake itself, but to the fœtid springs animal existence that it harbored no peculiar and marshes along the shore, increased, perhaps, forms of life-seemed to require strong proof; by exhalations from the stagnant pools upon the and this has, we think, been now sufficiently flat plain, which bounds the lake to the north. afforded. This had been stated by other travelElsewhere, he contends, that the saline and in-lers; and being now confirmed by those who were odorous exhalations from the lake itself must be three weeks upon the lake, may be treated as an established fact. No trace of piscatory or lower forms of aquatic life was in all that time seen in these waters. Some of the streams that run into
rather wholesome than otherwise; and as there is but little verdure upon the shores, there can be no vegetable exhalations to render the air impure. The evil is in the dangerous and depressing influence from the intense heat, and from the acrid and clammy quality of the waters producing a most irritated state of the skin, and eventually febrile symptoms and great prostration of strength. Under these influences, in a fortnight, although the health of the men seemed substantially sound,
The figure of each had assumed a dropsical appearance. The lean had become stout, and the stout almost corpulent; the pale faces had become florid, and those that were florid, ruddy; moreover, the slightest scratch festered, and the bodies of many of us were covered with small pustules. The men complained bitterly of the irritation of their sores, whenever the acrid water of the sea touched them. Still, all had good appetites, and I hoped for the best.-Lynch, p. 336.
Remarkable effects are deposits upon the shores. wards the south end,
afforded by the saline
There are few bushes, their stems partly buried in the water, and their leafless branches incrusted with salt, which sparkled as trees do at home when the sun shines upon them after a heavy sleet.— Lynch, p. 298.
Overhauled the copper boat, which wore away rapidly in this living sea. Such was the action of the fluid upon the metal, that the latter, so long as it was exposed to its immediate friction, was as bright as burnished gold, but when it came in contact with the air, it corroded immediately.—Lynch, P. 344.
the lake are salt.
In the salt-water streams there are plenty of fish, which, when they are unfortunately carried into the Dead Sea by the stream, or caught in their own element by the experimentalist, and thrown into it, at once expire and float. The same experiment was made and repeated at the mouth of the Jordan, with ourselves, of fish which we caught there, and cast into the sea; and nature, alike in both instances, immediately refused her life-supporting influence.-Montague, p. 223.
The commander himself cites a still more ex
traordinary fact. In a note at p. 377, he says
Since our return, some of the water of the Dead Sea has been subjected to a powerful microscope, and no animalculæ or vestige of animal matter could be detected.
This experiment, and proper care to secure some of the water of the lake, reminds us of a curious passage in our favorite old French traveller, Nau, who seems to regard this interest in the lake as a characteristic of Protestantism :
Before I finish this chapter, I must not omit to mention one thing that surprised me much in my two journeys. In both there were in the company some heretic merchants, who all manifested a marked devotion for this Sea of Sodom, testifying an extraordinary gladness in beholding it, and filling a large number of bottles with its water, to carry home with them, as if it had been some precious relic. I am not well able to understand the reasons of their devotion, or why they burdened themselves with so much of this water, which is of wrath and vengeance, rather than with that of the The sands are not so bright as those of the Med-Jordan, which is a water of mercy and salvation.
The shores of the beach before me, as I write, are encrusted with salt, and locked exactly as if white-washed.-Lynch, p. 344.
In fact, these men declared that there was nothing in all the Holy Land which they had seen with so much gratification.-Voyage Nouveau, p. 384.
The scarcity of vegetation upon the bushes would account for the comparative absence of land birds from the lake; and the absence of fishes and other aquatic creatures from the waters would sufficiently explain the absence of aquatic fowl. There is no doubt, for these causes, some scarcity But of birds here as compared with other lakes. the notion that the effluvia of the waters were fatal to birds that attempted to pass, has been disproved during the present century by a great accumulation of evidence, which our explorers have been enabled largely to confirm. In fact, though we have long ceased to have any doubts on this point, we feel somewhat surprised at the number and variety of birds that are mentioned as found upon the borders of the lake, as flying over it, or as skimming its surface. It is scarcely worth while to multiply instances of what almost every recent traveller has noticed. One instance is sufficient and conclusive, which is, that wild bucks were more then once seen floating at their sase on the surface of the lake. The tradition, now to be treated as obsolete, probably originated in the bodies of dead birds being found on the shore or upon the water. Such were, indeed, three times picked up by our travellers; but Lieut. Lynch feels assured that they had perished from exhaustion, and not from any malaria of the sea. Montague thinks they had rather been shot in their flight, and adds the interesting fact, that they were in a good state of preservation, though they appeared to have been for some time in the water. The water, he adds, seems to have the quality of preserving whatever is cast into it. Specimens of wood found there were in an excellent state of preservation.
We now quit with reluctance a subject in which we feel very much interest. Lieut. Lynch's book must be pronounced of great value, not only for the additions which it makes to our knowledge, but as the authentic record of an enterprise in the highest degree honorable to all the parties concerned. Our only regret is, that the author's avowed anxiety to occupy the book-market has prevented him from digesting his materials so carefully as the importance of the subject demanded, and has left inexcusable marks of haste, which should in any future edition be removed. Mr. Bentley is not, in this matter, altogether free from blame; for there are numerous persons in this country whose services would have removed most of the grosser errors by which the work is disfigured. As for the other book, what we have already said, we say once more :-It is a bushel of chaff, from which those who think it worth their while, and who have sufficient patience and skill, may contrive to extract a few grains of wheat.
COME, difficulty-hindrance to desert, Bugbear to fear, to dulness final stop
No more-it is a harp's low tone
A fading flower, with blighted root.
No more it is a murmuring rill,
No more-it is a severed chord ;
No more-it is a shadow fled;
No more-it is a passing bell,
Of youth, and love, and life, the knell;
[MAJOR GORDON'S PRUSSIAD.] MAJOR ALEXANDER GORDON, a volunteer in the Prussian service, wrote an heroic poem called the Prussiad, which he presented to the King of Prussia, at the camp of Madlitz, near Furstenwalde, Sept. 7, 1759, and then published at London, with the letter from that king prefixed, thus translated by the poet himself.
To Major Alexander Gordon.
Sir-I have read your poem with satisfaction: and thank you for the many genteel compliments you have paid me in it. Towards the expense of having it printed, I have ordered my secretary to pay you two hundred crowns, which I desire you will accept of, not as a reward of your merit, but as a mark of my benevolence. FREDERICK.
It is a neat poem, as the following passage may show.
Upon the precipice of danger, see
A VERY WOMAN.
BY S. M., THE AUTHOR OF THE MAIDEN AUNT.
"FERTILE in expedients!" said Clara Capel to herself, as she stood alone at the breakfast-table with a spoon filled with tea-leaves carefully poised in her hand on its way from the caddy to the teapot. The life of Sully lay open on the table beside her, and was the immediate cause of her soliloquy. "Fertile in expedients!" thought she, "it is always the same. All great men are so, whether statesmen, or generals, or authors. They don't make a handsome, tidy, comfortable theory in their own minds, and then throw away everything they meet with because it does not exactly suit the place they have got ready for it; but they take the world as they find it, and having got their materials they improve here and correct there, they invent this and beautify that and combine all, till at last they have built up a great edifice to the glory of God; and the irregularity and variety, the dreamy lights and doubtful shadows, are, in fact, the beauty of it." (Clara was pleased with her illustration, and so paused to polish it a little ere she proceeded.) "To give up laboring because the persons, or the systems, by whom and under which you have to labor, are not ideally perfect, is very much as if an artist were to give up painting because his oil-colors did n't smell of otto of roses, and were apt to soil his fingers. 'Make the best of it!'-that is the motto of all practical greatness-and what a best it is sometimes! How infinitely and wonderfully the result transcends the means! Well, and the same sort of mind which, when the proportions are large, is fit to rule the world must be necessary, though with small proportions, for the guidance of a family, or a course of every-day duties. Of that I am quite sure. And this is a woman's business, not to sit down as I do and grieve inwardly because she cannot do what she would, but to do what she can, and that cheerfully. Goëthe says, 'It is well for a woman when no work seems too hard for her or too small, when she is able to forget herself and to live entirely in others.' Why am I not thus I can be, and by God's help I will be. Unselfish ness and energy, these are the great secrets, and these are within everybody's reach. I may be, if | I choose, the life and centre of this home of minethe one who helps all, the one to whom all appeal. I may bring order and even elegance out of all this confusion, by descending to details and going to work heartily. Why should I be ashamed to do so? The heroine of a Swedish novel goes into the kitchen to dress beef-steaks for her husband's dinner, and yet is capable of discussing æsthetics in a manner that few Englishwomen could equal One would not be less liked and admired-(here it must be confessed that a particular person was in Clara's thoughts, though she gave mental utterance to no name) for such exertions, but rather more. Men, especially, never think so highly of a woman as when she contributes to the comfort of others; and how can she contribute, to the comfort of LIVING AGE. VOL. XXIII. 2
others, if her most active bodily exertion is to dance the polka? But this must be all real. It must be done, not thought about; and the disagreeables and the failures, which one must needs encounter, must be laughed at and overcome. Then how charming it will be when I see my work, and feel that I hold the family together, and that they all look to me and have recourse to me; and that by sacrificing my own particular wishes and tastes I am able to sustain them all, and to make them all happy!"
Clara clasped her hands together in the enthusiasm awakened by this idea, and the contents of the teaspoon went fluttering over the white tablecloth, not omitting to sprinkle the open butter-dish which stood near.
Is n't my mistress' breakfast ready yet, Miss Clara?" asked a somewhat untidy looking maid, as she entered the room, carrying an empty tray, and followed by the master of the house and sundry other members of the family; "she has been waiting for it this quarter of an hour."
Clara looked bewildered at this sudden summons from her castle in the air.
Why, the tea is n't even made !" cried Mr. Capel, indignantly "Really, Clara, it is very tiresome. Books," with a wrathful glance at the volume of Sully, "are exceedingly well in their way; but it is one of the worst characteristics of a regular blue-stocking to be dreaming over a book when she ought to be making herself useful. Halfpast nine o'clock, too, and the children's breakfast not ready yet. If this goes on I shall have Julia installed as housekeeper in future; she may, perhaps be better, and it's quite certain she could n't be worse!"'
"I am very sorry, papa," said Clara, meekly, the ready tears gathering in her eyes.
"O! it's easy to be very sorry,” returned her father, as he sat down and began cutting bread and butter with great vehemence; "but the fact is, you don't care for such things-you never think about them-your head is full of other matters; and as long as you have your German and your music it's nothing to you that your mother has to wait for her breakfast. If you gave one twentieth part of the thought which you bestow on a sonata by Beethoven to the comfort of your family, it would be better for all of us!"
How unjust we are to each other! and yet scarcely to be condemned, for the action is all we can see; and when the action belies the thought how can we form a right judgment? And who is there so perfectly disciplined that his habitual actions do indeed represent his inward aspirations?
Clara was naturally timid; she attempted no self-defence, but hurriedly and nervously proceeded with the business of breakfast. She made tea, conscious that the water had ceased to boil, but afraid to expose the fact by ringing the bell for a fresh supply. Quietly and silently she provided the children with their bread and milk, distributed the steaming cups to her elder brother and sister, and finally placed the strongest beside her father,