The Illustrated London Reading Book eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 275 pages of information about The Illustrated London Reading Book.

[Illustration:  BOWER BIRDS.]

The birds themselves are nearly as large as a jackdaw.  The female is green in colour, the centre of the breast feathers yellowish; the unmoulted plumage of the male is similar:  the eyes of both are brilliant blue.

* * * * *

THE POOL OF SILOAM.

[Illustration:  Letter T.]

The fountain and pool of Siloam, whose surplus waters flow in a little streamlet falling into the lake Kedron, is situate near the ancient walls of the city of Jerusalem.  Mr. Wild tells us “that the fountain of Siloam is a mineral spring of a brackish taste, and somewhat of the smell of the Harrowgate water, but in a very slight degree.”  It is said to possess considerable medicinal properties, and is much frequented by pilgrims.  “Continuing our course,” says he, “around the probable line of the ancient walls, along the gentle slope of Zion, we pass by the King’s gardens, and arrive at the lower pool of Siloam, placed in another indentation in the wall.  It is a deep square cistern lined with masonry, adorned with columns at the sides, and having a flight of steps leading to the bottom, in which there was about two feet of water.  It communicates by a subterraneous passage with the fountain, from which it is distant about 600 yards.  The water enters the pool by a low arched passage, into which the pilgrims, numbers of whom are generally to be found around it, put their heads, as part of the ceremony, and wash their clothes in the purifying stream that rises from it.”  During a rebellion in Jerusalem, in which the Arabs inhabiting the Tillage of Siloam were the ringleaders, they gained access to the city by means of the conduit of this pool, which again rises within the mosque of Omar.  This passage is evidently the work of art, the water in it is generally about two feet deep, and a man may go through it in a stooping position.  When the stream leaves the pool, it is divided into numbers of little aqueducts, for the purpose of irrigating the gardens and pleasure-grounds which lie immediately beneath it in the valley, and are the chief source of their fertility, for, as they are mostly formed of earth which has been carried from other places, they possess no original or natural soil capable of supporting vegetation.  As there is but little water in the pool during the dry season, the Arabs dam up the several streams in order to collect a sufficient quantity in small ponds adjoining each garden, and this they all do at the same time, or there would be an unfair division of the fertilizing fluid.  These dams are generally made in the evening and drawn off in the morning, or sometimes two or three times a day; and thus the reflux of the water that they hold gives the appearance of an ebb and flow, which by some travellers has caused a report that the pool of Siloam is subject to daily tides.

[Illustration:  THE POOL OF SILOAM.]

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The Illustrated London Reading Book from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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