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slope, a whole afternoon, at the the village of es-Souf, watching the children pelting each other with flowers, and we both agreed that we had never seen an assemblage of merrier or lovelier children. "I cannot make them out," said Dr. Thomson, with unwonted enthusiasm; " they seem to be English children."
Supposing the land for the proposed colony were secured, on Mr. Oliphant's plan, partly by judicious bribing at Constantinople, and partly by buying out the interest of the present proprietors, and that the undertaking proved to be the " sound and practical scheme containing all the elements of success" which its promoters predict —the very success of the colony would expose the colonists to a great and terrible danger. Travellers must have noticed that the fdlahin cultivate their fields with long guns slung over their shoulders, and an armoury of pistols and daggers iu their belts. Why is this? Because, as the proverb, tested by experience, has it—" A Turkish judge may be bribed by three eggs, two of them rotten; and a fellah may be murdered for his jacket without a button upon it."
Mr. Oliphant came upon Circassians re-occupying deserted villages in the midst of the Bedawin, and he takes the fact as "valuable evidence that the problem of colonization by a foreign element, so far as the Arabs are concerned, is by no means insoluble."* He seems to forget that the traveller with empty pockets may whistle in the face of the highwayman. The Circassians are settling in abandoned villages by the wish of the authorities. They have the deep sympathy of all Moslems on account of their sufferings. Besides, they have nothing to lose which would compensate the Bedawiu for the alienation of the Turkish Government.
The case would be far different with a rich and prosperous colony of foreigners supported by foreign capital.
In his hurried tour beyond Jordan, Mr. Oliphant came upon the Fudl Arabs with 2,000 fighting men, and in their midst a colony of 300 Circassians. In another place he came on a colony of 3,000 Circassians in the midst of the Nairn Arabs, who muster 4,000 fighting men. "The Anezeh Arabs, who control," he says, "an area of about 40,000 square miles, and who can bring over 100,000 horsemen and camel-drivers into the field," would be on the borders of the colony, and the Druzes, who are born warriors, and who inhabit Jebel-ed-Druze, he places at 50,000. Besides these there are the Beni Sukhr, and other local tribes, whose fanaticism and cupidity would be moved by the presence of a prosperous colony of foreigners.
On April 12,1875, Dr. Thomson and I started from Der'a in a southwesterly direction over wavy hills covered with splendid wheat, the sides of the way ablaze with anemones. As we approached Remthey, we saw what in the miragy atmosphere seemed a row of trees fifteen * " The Land of Gilead," p. 255.
or twenty miles long. I had been over the path before, and I was struck with this new feature in the landscape. Soon it seemed to us that the line, as far as'we could see, was in motion, and as we approached closer to it, we found that it was composed of camels. We spurred our horses, and soon we found ourselves by the side of the great living stream of the Wuld 'Aly Arabs moving from the Arabian Desert to the pastures of Jaulan. The procession marched six or seven abreast, and in families of from 20 to 150. The camels had curious baskets fixed on their humps, and in these were stowed women and children, and kids and dogs, while cooking utensils were hung all round the baskets, and by the sides of their dams trotted little baby camels. The stream flowed past silent and orderly, with here and there a spearman riding by the side of his family. At short intervals flocks of sheep and goats marched parallel with the living stream.
A party of Arab horsemen were reclining on a little hill with their spears stuck in the ground watching their people pass. We rode up to them, and their chief received us with great courtesy, and urged us to await the arrival of the cavalry with the Sheikh, to whom I had once done a favour which they remembered. We remained about an hour, and still the stream flowed past. The Arabs told us they had begun to move at an early hour, and would continue on the march for days, and as far as wc could see, looking north and south, the procession was without break or pause. They told us they could bring into the field 100,000 fighting men, and their people, they said, was "like the sand of the sea." Never before or since have I seen such a swarm of human beings—" a multitude that no man could number." Any trans-Jordanic colony would have to calculate on the proximity of this horde, whose power has never been broken, not even by Joshua nor Ibrahim Pasha, and whose rule in their own land is supreme in virtue of their resistless might. Even the Turkish Government bribe the Arabs in this region to let the Mohammedan pilgrims pass to Mecca! How much black-mail would the prosperous colony of infidels have to pay for permission to exist in the land of the faithful? And supposing arrangements could be made to secure the tolerance of the Bedawin, there would still remain the Druzes and Circassians, and local sub-tribes and aggrieved fellahin, who would form combinations to which an agricultural colony could offer no effective resistance.
Mr. Oliphant speaks of driving the Arabs "back across the Hadj road, where a small cordon of soldiers, posted in the forts which now exist upon it, would be sufficient to keep them in check." Turkish soldiers would not be the slightest protection to a prosperous colony of infidels, nor would a small cordon of any soldiers suffice, should the colony ever become a tempting prize.
In the spring of 1874, a small party of us were returning from Palmyra, and a few miles beyond Karyetein we passed close by a desperate battle in progress between the Giath and Amour Arabs, and a powerful caravan proceeding from Baghdad to Damascus. The camels of the caravan were formed into a circular rampart, the head of one camel being made fast to the next; and from behind this living rampart the hardy villagers, who were bringing provisions for their families from beyond the Euphrates, defended themselves throughout a long summer day—the sound of the battle being distinctly heard by the Turkish garrison at Karyetein. The Bedawin galloped round the circle, making a feint here and an attack there until the villagers were worn out and their ammunition exhausted. Near sunset a wounded camel staggered and fell, and broke the line. The circle opened out and became a crescent. Quick as lightning the Bedawin rushed in at the breach, the camels fled in panic in all directions, and the wiry Arabs with their flashing spears decided the victory in a few minutes. I had full details of the fight afterwards from the victors and the vanquished. The Bedawins took possession of 120 loads of butter, and a large amount of tobacco, dates, Persian carpets, horses, mules, and camels, valued at £4,000. All the caravan people, dead and alive, were stripped naked in the desert. What did the Bedawin do with 120 loads of butter? They had it brought into Damascus and sold publicly. What did the Bedawin do with the splendid carpets from the looms of Persia and Cashmere? They distributed them among their powerful friends in Damascus, in return for efficient protection, and some of the best found their way into the gorgeous saloons of those whose duty it was to administer justice. One of my friends found three of his camels in the hands of the robbers' friends, and though he got several orders from the Government for the restoration of his property, he could never get them carried out. The above incident, of which I have complete details, may be interesting to those who have any idea of entrusting their lives and property to the Bedawin hordes and the protecting Turk.
And what is true of the land of Gilead is true of all lands bordering the Desert. In the northeast of Syria there is as fine a peasantry as is to be found anywhere. They are handsome and courteous, though picturesque in rags. They are thrifty and frugal, but penniless and starving. They are comparatively truthful and honest, but without credit or resources. They have broad acres which only require to be scratched and they bring forth sixty-fold; but they cultivate little patches surrounded with mud walls and within range of their matchlocks. During the greater part of the year these poor people dare not walk over their own fields for fear of being stripped of their tattered rags. And yet these are the most heavily taxed peasantry in the world. They pay black-mail to the Bedawin, who plunder them notwithstanding; and they pay taxes to the Turks, who give them no protection. The Bedawin enforce their claims by cutting off the cars of any straggling villagers from defaulting villages, who fall within their power, and by carrying off for ransom a number of village children into the Desert. The Turks enforce their claims by imprisoning the Sheikhs of the villages till they have paid the uttermost farthing. With protection and fair government, the peasantry of Northern Syria would be among the happiest in the world. But in their land, what the Turkish caterpillar leaves the Bedawy locust devours.
From the foregoing remarks it is evident that the agricultural resources of Syria and Palestine are very great, and capable, under good government, of being largely developed: that the difficulties encountered by those who invest capital in land in Syria and Palestine are such as to deter immigrants from embarking in agricultural enterprises under Turkish rule in that land: and that immigrants in Syria and Palestine would be exposed to great personal dangers, which would increase in proportion to the success of their labours.
THE CONSERVATIVE DILEMMA.
ALL is not as well as it should be with the Conservative party. Just when a succession of misfortunes has lowered its credit with the world, it is harassed with mutiny in the camp. Both sides have taken the public into their confidence. "Two Conservatives" lately figured on a distinguished rostrum and retailed their grievances. A month later " Two other Conservatives" stood up on the same spot and answered the impeachment. These dual appearances are rather puzzling. In the case of the first couple it may be that they fixed upon the figure "2 " as a neat divisor, and while sending one-half of their force to the front kept the other half in reserve to defend the rear. This explanation will not hold good for the second couple. The party loyalists can hardly have been reduced to such insignificant proportions. Why, then, should they have hit upon the odd device of delivering their apologetics in pairs? Is suspicion so ram pant in their ranks that no one man can be trusted? Is the drawing up of a reply to the insurgents so ticklish a business that two heads are needed for its satisfactory performance? Or are we to see in this circumstance merely another sign of the fatal dualism which pervades the party, and has already rent Elijah's mantle in twain?
Instead of attempting to solve these mysteries let us turn to the indictment. There, at any rate, are certain things set down in black and white, and some progress may be made in useful knowledge without any desire to be wise above what is written. The manifesto drawn up by the " Two Conservatives" is not altogether edifying reading. At a first glance it reminds ns of a round-robin got up in the servants' hall for the purpose of springing a mine upon the steward and housekeeper, or of the whisperings sometimes heard in the lower ranks of a mercantile establishment where a conviction prevails that