Of all the lands on earth for dismal scenery, I think Palestine must be the prince. The hills are barren, they are dull of color, they are unpicturesque in shape. The valleys are unsightly deserts fringed with a feeble vegetation that has an expression about it of being ashamed of itself. The Dead Sea and the Sea of Galilee--mere lakes they are--sleep in the midst of a vast stretch of hill and plain wherein the eye rests upon no pleasant tint, no striking object, no soft picture dreaming in a purple haze or mottled with the shadow of the clouds. Every outline is harsh, every feature is distinct, there is no perspective--distance works no enchantment here. It is the most hopeless, dreary, heartbroken piece of territory out of Arizona. I think the sun would skip it if he could make schedule time by going around. What Palestine wants is paint. It will never be a beautiful country until it is painted. Each detachment of pilgrims ought to give it a coat, and build walls at short distances, so that one could not see too much landscape at once. The children of Israel wandered about the desert beyond Jordan where we camped, and marched into Canaan with songs of rapture and rejoicing; and it is a wonder to me that they didn't pack up and march out of it again. That they refrained from doing it speaks volumes for the desolation of the wilderness. But then, all those that had seen Egypt were dead. That fact is mildly suggestive. I speak as if Canaan had never been a better country than it is now. I have much better judgment than to say that there is considerable evidence that it has not changed in any respect in four thousand years--evidence that there was not any chance for it to change for the worse--evidence that from the date of its creation the difference between it and a "wilderness" was not more perceptible than the difference between one Chinaman and another. I refrain from saying these things, not because they might not savor somewhat of truth, but because they could not be popular.
But the severest thing that has been said about Palestine was said here in Jerusalem. A pilgrim with his periodical ecstasy upon him (it usually comes in a flush of happiness after dinner) finished his apostophe with, "O, that I could be here at the Second Advent!"
A grave gentleman said, "It will not occur in Palestine."
"The Second Advent will take place elsewhere--possibly in America."
"I speak reasonably. You are in the Holy Land. You have seen the Holy Land once?"
"Shall you ever want to come here again?"
"My friend, the Savior has been here once!"
[Daily Alta California, 5 April 1868]
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