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ing and peaceful race of original consideration. They have themowners; yet we never hear this selves denied the imputation, and urged as a reason against colonisa- there can be no doubt that one tion in Africa. The whole popula- main reason why their attention tion of Syria at the present time, has been directed to trade, rather in an area considerably larger than than to tillage, lies in the laws Wales, does not probably amount which from the middle ages downto half the population of London. wards have prevented them from The only city which can be so called acquiring land. It is agriculture
- Damascus-contains not much that they now propose as an occumore than 200,000 souls. Beyond Pation for their colonists, and at Jordan the nomad population, in first there would be little scope a region thickly covered with the for other occupations. It is, howruins of towns, vineyards, and ever, undeniable that once settled, olive-yards, with ancient roads and successful agriculture must bring other public works, averages only in its train mechanical occupations, about seven souls to the square industries, and manufactures, and mile. That the country once sup- trade with other lands. There is ported ten times its present popu- much scope for improvement in lation there is abundant evidence, mechanical appliances, in architecfrom the ruins which date from ture, and in commerce, even now; the prosperous days of Roman and and for a thousand years or more Byzantine rule. Even under the Palestine has been å silk-producNorman kings the population was ing country, the first establishment probably much larger than it now of the silk-worm in the time of is. The country itself attests that Justinian having been in Cyprus, there is room and to spare for an- and on the Syrian coasts. other million of inhabitants. The The final objection, which stigimpression that Palestine is an matises the present movement as unfertile country is probably due "enthusiastic," is one which comto the fact that most visitors monly meets any new proposal. travel through its least fertile and That a deep religious sentiment most rugged parts. Deserts fringe lies at the hearts of the Hebrew the Dead Sea, and the chalk people, cannot be denied. Each plateau to the south of Beersheba year at the Sabbath of “the beginis fitted only for pastoral existence ning” they pray that "next year in the present condition of its we may be sons of freedom ”; but water-supply. But, speaking gen- such a sentiment is no passing erally as to climate, fertility, and wave of excitement, though stirred productions, Palestine resembles at present more deeply by the the south of Italy, which is called troubles of their brethren in Rusfrom of old the “Garden of the sia. The reports of recent meetWorld.” In our own country we ings show, moreover, that sentihave stony regions, barren hills, ment alone is not the motive of and pastoral wolds, yet England action. A very practical sense of is not regarded as a country unfit impending difficulties; a very pracfor agriculture; and even now,
tical determination to co-operate under the most unfavourable con- and to organise; to inquire as to ditions, Palestine is still a land of means and possibilities; and to corn and wine and oil.
weigh advantages and disadvanThat the Jews are not an agri- tages, is to be recognised in the cultural people is a more serious remarks of their speakers, and in
reached by a few hours' journey, Italy, and richer than Greece, or instead of several days of toil- any other region on the east of some march, with pack - animals the Mediterranean. It is a quesor camels.
tion merely of gaining the consent The corn plains of Bashan, of the Sultan, and of finding the though deficient in water-supply, necessary capital, and both these have always been celebrated for conditions the Jews are setting their produce. The inhabitants themselves to fulfil. of this plateau are now mainly In spite of all that has been Druze and Arab; but the ruins of written on the subject, the popular ancient cities of the Roman period conception of the Holy Land apattest that the whole region once pears to be that it consists of supported a much larger popula- sandy plains with palm oases, and tion. Some trouble may perhaps of barren mountains entirely stony arise with nomadic tribes; but this and incapable of cultivation. It is a decreasing difficulty, and the is commonly believed that a curse power of the Sultan's Government rests on the land, and that the in this region is already stronger rains have failed, and the plains no than it was twelve years ago, when longer bloom with flowers. Some Mr Oliphant was in Gilead. If indeed have ventured to assert such colonisation, and such open- that this curse has quite recently ing up of the country, be eflected, been withdrawn, and that the Palestine may become a very
im- rains have begun again, these portant source of corn-supply for things being the sign of the re. England. It is less remote than turn of the Jews which is to Russia, and could easily compete follow. The truth is, that we have with India, since the heavy dues now meteorological observations of the Suez Canal would be avoid- in Palestine, which sh that th ed, and the sea passage would be climate has been unchanged, at halved. The introduction of bet- least for the last twenty years ; ter agricultural methods, and the and that the rainfall is equal to increase of corn - growing area,
that of other Mediterranean lands, would make the export trade though years of drought do still much more important than it is occur as of old. Those who have at present; and the dry climate looked down on the glorious carpet of Bashan and Gilead is perhaps of flowers which covers the Jordan healthier than that of any other valley in spring; who have heard part of Syria, with exception of the wild doves cooing in the oakthe southern pastoral deserts. woods near Nazareth, and have Those who seek to induce colonists seen the roebuck stealing through to settle in the waterless tracts the glades of Carmel; who have north of Bechuanaland, or in the ridden by the mountain brooks of feverish regions of the Imperial Gilead, among the forests of pine East African Company, have much and oak; who have seen the corn less to offer than have those who on the red Sharon and Galilean seek to repopulate an ancient plains; who have crushed the centre of trade and agriculture, thyme on Samaritan hills, and sat such as is found in Palestine. As in the shady gardens where the far as climate and productive soil fig, the olive, the mulberry, the are concerned, there is no physical apricot, and many other fruits are reason why Syria should not be grown,-well know that the “good equally prosperous with Southern land is a good land still.
die on the Balkan snows, or to strictly applicable according to meet the Russians in Armenia, this ancient authority, and in and for the most part those who other countries it is not applicaso were taken away never returned. ble at all. On the other hand, The Moslem in the country in it has been pointed out that this Palestine is less fanatical than of law, like those concerning the old, and less confident in the power Passover and the Red Heifer, of Islam: treated with ordinary refers to a condition of the Holy justice and honesty, he is never Land when the Temple service impracticable, and is willing to was still possible. So long as the buy and sell with Christian and Temple remains in its present conJew, though cursing them in his dition, the customs of the Jews heart as
pagans. Thus, in Palestine do not appear subbefore said, the object of the Jews stantially to differ from those should not be to dispossess, but to which they observe in lands of utilise, the existing peasant popu- exile. The whole system of the lation; remembering, however, that Law, as it once existed, awaits injustice or trickery will be re- the coming of the Messiah before sented finally with violence, and it can be re-enacted. that the only method which in the Whatever be our religious opinend can succeed is to allow the ions on such a subject as that of peasants their share in the pros- the return of the Jews to the land perity due to their work, and to of their fathers, it will perhaps respect that ancient code of social be seen that the subject is quite law which is contrasted by them capable of being treated from a with the injustice of government, non-“ enthusiastic” point of view. and often called by them “the One of the main objections applies Laws of Abraham.” It is only on quite as much to South Africa as such principles of just dealing that to Palestine—namely, the tendency the new-comers can consider them- which exists in all such cases to selves likely to be successful, or gamble in land, to sell and resell, even safe from a combined action to make the landed possessions of of the Moslem population. Such the speculator a mere counter in arrangements have often been
à game of considerable duration, made, and more than one district during which time nothing is done can be pointed out in Palestine really to stock or cultivate the where a Moslem population works country. There is only one means cheerfully for Christian or Jewish of counteracting this evil, which landlords, much as the natives of has been equally felt in America India work under British rulers. —namely, to make occupation and
Some difficulties which do not improvement the only valid titles present themselves to the minds to the land given to a colonist, of Europeans will perhaps arise By such means the really earnest among the Jews themselves, on workman
may be secured, and account of the provisions of the the speculator diverted to other Law, and the rules laid down in countries, where (as in South the Talmud. Thus the observa- Africa) he may grow rich by selltion of the Sabbath year, accord- ing deserts which he has done ing to the Mishnah, is strictly nothing to reclaim, and holds applicable only to the Holy Land through a title obtained by cajolitself. In Syria, beyond the ing a native chief to sign that borders of Galilee, it is less which he could not understand,