18 February 2009

The way it was...

“Nothing there (in Jerusalem) to be seen but a little of the old walls which is yet remaining and all the rest is grass, moss and weeds” (English pilgrim in 1590). “The country is in a considerable degree empty of inhabitants and therefore its greatest need is of a body of population” (British consul in 1857).

“There is not a solitary village throughout its whole extent (valley of Jezreel) – not for 30 miles in either direction… One may ride 10 miles hereabouts and not see 10 human beings. For the sort of solitude to make one dreary, come to Galilee… Nazareth is forlorn… Jericho lies a moldering ruin… Bethlehem and Bethany, in their poverty and humiliation… untenanted by any living creature... A desolate country whose soil is rich enough, but is given over wholly to weeds… a silent, mournful expanse… a desolation… We never saw a human being on the whole route… Hardly a tree or shrub anywhere. Even the olive tree and the cactus, those fast friends of a worthless soil, had almost deserted the country… Palestine sits in sackcloth and ashes… desolate and unlovely (Mark Twain, The Innocents Abroad, 1867).

No comments: