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JERUSALEM AND ITS ENVIRONS.
The Holy City has been so often and so well described, that it may savour somewhat of presumption to try to say anything new on the subject. Descriptions geographical, historical, and even semi-prophetical already exist; and with none of these do I purpose entering the list. The following description was not originally "written in my private journal, and subsequently published at the request of friends." Its publication is due to an altogether different cause. The materials from which it is compiled were hasty pencil-notes in my pocket-book, enlarged afterwards from memory; and its only claim on the attention of the reader is its originality. Thus prefaced, I must rush at once in medias res; and for that purpose transport the reader to Mount Zion. Here a spacious, but by no means ornamental structure stands, and is used for the accommodation of travellers, under the style and title of The Royal Navy Hotel; a name adopted by the proprietor in commemoration of the visit of Prince Alfred, who sojourned within its walls during his stay in Jerusalem.
the hour being too far advanced to admit of any distant excursion, we might easily visit the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, and satisfactorily inspect its interior, so as to see the localities of interest it professes to include within its walls.
Our party had arrived-as narrated in the last chapter-in safety from Ramleh (sandy), and, after partaking of some refreshment, set itself resolutely to consider the future plan of action as to sight-seeing. The nearest object of interest was the Church of the Holy Sepulchre; a good view of which we obtained from the terrace-like balcony under the windows of the Hotel. Thus viewed, the church seemed much nearer than it was in reality; and the cupola could not fail to be noticed as sadly needing repair. On inquiry we learned that the dilapidated state of the roof was owing to the feuds and mutual jealousy that existed between the Greek and Latin churches, neither being disposed to consent to its being repaired by the other, lest there might be hereafter some assertion of a prior right or superior possession deduced, on the ground of the claimant having repaired the roof of the church. The professors of the Greek faith, and also of the Latin (Roman Catholic), perform religious services under the same roof, and yet are allowing the roof to fall into decay between them.
The Church of the Holy Sepulchre, as seen from the elevation on which we stood, presented the appearance of a huge bee-hive of masonwork; and was much more suggestive, as far as its shape was concerned, of its being a Turkish mosque, than a Christian church. To the right of this far-famed of the Holy Places, was the mosque of Omar, a splendid structure built on Mount Moriah. Farther still, and still to the right of the mosque, and of the town itself, lay the Mount of Olives, rendered especially conspicuous by the presence of the Church of the Ascension, as well as of a tall minaret, both of which are built upon its summit. The view above described showed us that whilst the Mount of Olives, and even the mosque, were too far off to allow of one visiting them that day,
Availing ourselves of the assistance of a guide, whose local knowledge was found very useful, we left the hotel, and were soon after exploring the narrow crowded streets of that part of the city nearest to Mount Zion. The more crowded of these are called bazaars-designation due to the presence of the number of windowless shops by which either side of the way is lined. From the bazaars we turned into the Via Dolorosa, which without any question as to the identity of its geographical position with that of our Saviour's way, when he went bearing his cross, suffices by its name alone to fix the attention, if it be productive of no higher feeling. Fourteen resting-places (or stations as they are called by Roman Catholics), are here marked; but of their accuracy no one could be satisfied who reflects for a moment upon the vicissitudes through which this, as well as every other part of the city, has passed. To believe that the house pointed out as that of Pilate, or another to which attention is directed as the house of Caiaphas, is such in reality, required no little believing power. A further strain was subsequently put upon our credence, when the house of Dives was pointed out at no very great distance from that of Lazarus! Passing over the many other localities, to each of which some interest is ascribed or name given, we came in a short time to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. On entering this spacious building, we found numbers of pilgrims of all nations there already, and conspicuous among these were Poles, Russians, and Wallachians; all of whom, to judge from their devoted appearance and reverent gestures and acts, were impressed with a thorough belief, not only in the identity of the sacred spot with that of Calvary, but an unquestioning acceptance of eyerything that was presented as an object of devotional interest. Pilgrims of the character here described invariably, we observed, stooped down, on entering the church, to kiss the broad marble slab, pointed out as the stone upon which the body of Christ was laid, to be annointed previous to its sepulture. On this stone we did not waste much time, but pressed forward, that we might see other and more reliable objects. Next in interest after the Sepulchre itself, and before it in the order of our progress, came Calvary; for, although the whole site of the church is, properly speaking, so named, yet there is within the walls one elevated spot, said to be that on which the cross was actually erected, and more immediately designated Calvary in consequence. Here stands a high altar, or rather shrine, rich in gold and precious stones, offerings of kings and other devout worshippers. Conspicuous amongst these presentations is a picture mounted in gold, and richly studded with jewels of value, the gift either of the late Emperor of Russia, or of one of his predecessors. Three
holes round the edge, each covered by a flattened | ring of gold, mark the three spots pointed out as those on which the crosses were severally set up. The centre one is the largest and is said to have been that on which the cross of Christ was fixed. We could not fail to observe the apparently too great proximity of these gold bound holes to each other; and but for the explanation that the centre cross was highest, those of the thieves being equal in height to each other, we should have doubted the possibility of three persons being crucified upon so small a pace. To the right of the site of the crosses, a deep fissure in the rock is pointed out as the result of the earthquake when "the rocks were rent." To determine whether the rent now exhibited be indeed a result of the earthquake that took place at the crucifixion was a labour we were not inclined to undertake, even were it possible to arrive at any satisfactory result on the subject. It suffices for pilgrims generally, that such is the account traditionally given to it; and to this we could only add the results of our own examination as proving it not to be artificially made-a conclusion to which we came when, upon pushing aside the grating used as a cover over the rent, we discovered that the sides of the fissure were the one convex and the other
From Calvary we descended to the Greek chapel; where, as divine service was being performed, we did not remain. Finding that the Latin chapel was similarly occupied by the Roman Catholic monks, we were again about to withdraw; but that our guide informed us that the chapel in question contained some objects of interest sufficient to repay us for waiting till the close of the service. We had not waited very long ere the vespers were concluded; and some of the monks came forward to show us the great sight of this immediate locality, namely, a piece of stone said to be part of the pillar to which the Saviour was bound when scourged. The value attached to the safety of this relic is attested by the care taken to preserve it out of reach of all beholders; and for this purpose a strong brazen grating is fixed across the recess in which it is deposited. The modus videndi is as follows: The monk who exhibits the stone does so by conveying a lighted taper through the bars. In order to accomplish this feat satisfactorily, he is provided with a long staff, around the end of which he wraps a flexible wax light, and, thus armed, makes the much-prized stone dimly visible. In the sacristy, which is close to the stone chapel, a huge two-handed sword, and brazen spurs of colossal size, with a massive gold chain and cross, are exhibited, as relics of the famous Godfrey de Bouillon, the farfamed crusade.
Having duly inspected these wonders, we resolved to penetrate at once to the Holy Sepulchre; this being the principal object of interest within the walls of the church. On our way to the sepulchre, we met a party of naval officers; who were like ourselves, on sightseeing intent. These were, more Anglicans,
proceeding in the most systematical way; one reading aloud from "Murray's Handbook," whilst the others sought out the whereabouts of each object as described in that wonderful volume.
Before reaching the sepulchre, we had to enter the Angel Chapel. This portion of the building also possesses its relic, the stone on which the angel sat who announced the fact of the resurrection.
A low narrow stone archway gave us entrance, at length, to the crypt of the Holy Sepulchre. The crowd of pilgrims desirous of obtaining an entrance to this the most important part of the church rendered it no easy matter to go in; whilst a counter-tide of those within who desired egress made it still more difficult, when once within the vault-like recess in which the spot of Christ's interment is pointed out. We made our way with some difficulty to the front; and there beheld a broad slab of polished marble. This slab is said to cover the identical spot of the sepulture, and is regarded by pilgrims with much reverence. Many of those present stooped down and kissed the stone, with much apparent devotion. The shrine was guarded by a monk, whose principal occupation seemed to be the lighting of a number of long quill-like tapers, and vending them, for a few copper coins, to such visitors as desired to bear away with them these souvenirs of the visit.
As soon as the sepulchre had been sufficiently seen, we joined the out-going tide; and were by no means sorry to regain a free if not a fresh air outside, in exchange for the close and crowded atinosphere of the sepulchre. Passing through the various chapels without delay, as we felt we had now seen the principal object of interest in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre we were not long in reaching the door by which we had entered, and once more found ourselves in the street. The day was now too far spent to allow of further sight-seeing; and so it was resolved to return to our hotel to dine-a resolution which meeting with no dissentient voice, we at once proceeded to put in execution.
JERUSALEM AND ITS ENVIRONS (continued).
On returning to the hotel, we found the younger members of our party clamouring for dinner, as the result of a long day's exercise. The ringing of a "dressing "bell" served in some measure to still the tumult, if not to appease the hunger of the middies. "To dress" was now the cry, and ere the second bell gave out its cheerful note we had all assembled in the long salle à manger of the "Royal Navy;" where a rather formidable array of plates and glasses ornamented the board, but dishes or edibles there were none. What gorillas would do under circumstances so tantalizing I do not
pretend to say; but that the human and higher animal, genus Homo, species Middy, did not exhibit signs of any especial serenity of temper, was manifested in the renewal of the clamours for food. The roving eyes of one youngster having rested for a moment upon the large naval bell by which we had been summoned to disappointment, it was quickly seized, and rung with such good will as to bring the dragoman, in haste, from the kitchen. Scarcely venturing more than his head into the room, this worthy delivered a message of peace; which, though worded in the form of an interrogatory, was understood as a promise, and rapturously received. The message from our hostess ran as follows:
"Gentemen, madam she say sall you have your dinner direkelly."
Under cover of the laughter caused by this announcement, the dragoman wisely withdrewa precaution not to be despised, since, had it occurred to anyone to keep possession of him as a hostage, his position would have been none of the pleasantest. Dinner came at length, and was served à la Russe; and had it been served à la Chinoise instead, it would have been discussed with equally ample justice. Multa docet fames-which being freely rendered served as the motto of our banquet-was proved abundantly true; as we learned to partake of what was put before us without asking any questions. As there was much to be done on the morrow in way of sight-seeing, it was resolved to retire early, and, by securing a good night's rest, not only lay in a stock for present needs, but make up for the loss of sleep at Ramleh. Next morning found us all awake and ready for breakfast at an early hour. The dragoman had wisely secured horses over night, in order to prevent the possibility of any disappointment arising from the necessity of providing for so large a party. After breakfast had been despatched, we went out to inspect the herd of cattle" awaiting us-and no little time was consumed in selecting such steeds as gave fair promise of sure-footedness in themselves and some approach to comfort in the saddles. When at length we were mounted and ready for a start, the order to "march" was duly given; and we moved off in the direction of the Jaffa gate, the same by which we had entered the city the day before.
Leaving the more particular description of the several localities through which we now rode to works of more pretension, I shall merely chronicle the fact that we began our journey by the Valley of Gihon. This valley is divided into the upper and lower pools, by the remains of a bridge, that forms the road leading to Bethlehem. On turning to our left, we entered the Valley of Hinnom, and from this could plainly see the Potters' Field, the Mount of Offence, and Jacob's Well, the lastmentioned being at the foot of the valley. Again turning to the left, we entered the Valley of Jehoshaphat; and had the Mount of Olives on our right, whilst beneath us lay
the brook Kedron. How different are the ideas formed of the brook Kedron from the appearance it actually presents! What it may look like in winter I do not pretend to know; but must say that the spot pointed out to us was as unbrook-like as any locality must be that cannot boast of the presence of one drop of water. The Pool of Siloam, had it really been a pool, would, I am certain, have been regarded with an interest such as no effort of our will was sufficient to evoke in favour of the dry locality so named. Here crossing over, we passed immediately under the tomb of James the Just, the tomb of Zacharias, and Absalom's monument. Ascending the hill, we passed through the Jews' burying-ground and struck into the Bethanyroad. The spot where Martha met Jesus, the house of Martha and Mary, as well as a cave said to be the tomb of Lazarus, were all duly pointed out by our guide, and inspected ere we left the village of Bethany.
We now commenced the ascent of the Mount of Olives-a work of no great labour, as the slope is easy. On reaching the summit of the hill (since mount one could scarcely describe it to be) we dismounted, and committed our horses in charge to some ragged boys who had come up with us for that purpose. We now prepared to ascend the minaret, built on the more commanding part of the ground, and from this enjoyed a magnificent view. On the one hand lay the village of Bethany, whilst the more distant views were the Dead Sea and the dark line that marks the course and direction of the Jordan, and southward the mountainous hills surrounding Bethlehem. When we had sufficiently enjoyed the beauties of the extensive view obtained from the minaret's top, we descended, and were conducted to the Church of the Ascension. Here, on the ground floor, a stone bearing a hollow mark is pointed out as the last impressed footstep of the ascending Saviour.
Before leaving the Mount of Olives we plucked off small branches from the fine old olive-trees, to be kept as souvenirs of our visit to a spot, of the identity of which no doubt can be entertained. In descending the Mount we reached the place where the Saviour is said to have sat when weeping over Jerusalem, and no finer view of the city could well be imagined than that which here meets the eyes; giving, as it does, the Golden Gate on the right, and the mosque of Omar (the site of the Temple) prominently in the foreground. Continuing our descent we reached Gethsemane.
Before entering the garden, the spot on which the Saviour prayed, the sleeping-place of the disciples, as well as the scene of the betrayal by Judas, are all indicated by an intelligent guide, and were duly noticed by the young man who accompanied us in that capacity. The Garden of Gethsemane is an enclosed space, neatly kept by the monks who have charge of it, and from its local position presents considerable claims as to site. Here, or at all events notfar from this spot, were enacted several of the later scenes in the life of Him, after whose name we
are all called. No thoughtful person could reflect upon this fact without experiencing feelings of more than usual solemnity.
From Gethsemane we rode down by a portion of our former way, pausing for a moment to see some Arab women engaged in the perforinance of a dance for the dead. The performers were all clad in coarse blue dresses, and chanted as they confusedly danced round. It was to be regretted that we could not understand the words of the dirge they sang; but we learned from our guide that its language was figurative, and the burden of it a repetition of some such words as "The light is taken away."
Passing on from this spot by a not very interesting way, and after a ride of considerable duration, we came in view of Bethlehem, which is attainable from a considerable distance. On entering the town, we made our way at once to the Church of the Nativity, connected with which is a Franciscan monastery. To the latter our dragoman-guide turned, and having made the necessary request for luncheon, returned to conduct us to the church. A monk now presented himself as cicerone, and under his guidance we inspected the Armenian chapel, in which service was then being performed, the Tomb of the Innocents, that of St. Helena, and finally the school and tomb of St. Jerome. These minor objects did not occupy our attention, either for so long a period or so completely as to prevent our preferring a sight of the birth-place of the Saviour to them. The enshrined spot pointed out as that on which the Saviour was born was at length reached, and upon it, and its companion the site of the manger, we gazed with great interest; feeling certain that, whether these two shrines did really overhang the identical site of the nativity and of the manger or not, at all events the locality was the same, and one in or near which the identical site must be. As soon as we had completed the inspection of the Church of the Nativity, we repaired to the Franciscan Monastery, of which mention has been already made, and there partook of a frugal luncheon. When preparing for our return to Jerusalem we were beset by the entreaties of the men and boys, who sell rude carvings on shell of the Nativity, &c., as well as crosses and fouvenirs of Bethlehem. Escaping from these persistent tormentors we succeeded in mounting our horses, and after a brisk ride we returned to Jerusalem. On reaching the Holy City once more, we rode at once to our hotel, and there found that a considerable addition had been made to its number of guests. The Admiral in command on the coast of Syria had, with a retinue of several officers, arrived to pay an official visit to the Pacha of Jerusalem. Now, as almost all the accompanying officers belonged to the same ship with ourselves, we were very glad to meet old friends, and talk over the sights we had seen. The visit to the Pacha was to take place the following day, and very naturally formed a topic of conversation to all of us, as all officers present were, if so disposed, at liberty to be present at the interview
between our admiral and the viceroy. The visit itself, with such other sights as we saw in Jeru salem, must, however, be reserved for another chapter.
JERUSALEM AND ITS ENVIRONS.
The visit to be paid to the Pacha of Jerusalem formed the all-absorbing topic of the morning following the day of the admiral's arri val. As the hour, however, at which we were to proceed to the vice-regal residence was not a very early one, we resolved to visit the Arme nian Convent of St. James.
The church belonging to this community is spacious and beautiful; and contains amongst other objects of reverent interest, a valuable oilpainting as well as the tomb of the Apostle; the latter is firmly believed by the faithful to contain the remains of the Saint. At no great distance from the Convent stands the Tower of David, and thither we went in the vain hope of seeing David's tomb. The custode who was in charge of the lower grounds pointed out to us a large mortar-floored room as the tomb of the Psalmist, but admitted that what he showed us was merely a cover constructed over the real tomb, a sight of which is not permitted to Christians.
In returning to the hotel we passed as closely as was prudent to the village of the Lepers. This colony cannot fail to present a melancholy interest to the traveller. A cluster of bee-hive shaped huts of stone or mud constitutes the village; but of what size the huts are, or of the number of the inmates, we could gain no information, and were satisfied to follow the advice given to Danté-" Behold, and pass on." The sight of the village sufficed, however, to suggest the subject of leprosy as topic of conver sation; and the conclusion we came to was that the fact of leprosy demanding the interference of the authorities and separation of the afflicted was the worse form of the disease. Minor forms of it, such as leprosy of the joints, do not, it seems, necessitate either; and persons afflicted with the latter form of the disease may be met with in the streets, or employed as shopkeepers in selling their wares.
On reaching Mount Zion again we found the courtyard of our Hotel the scene of busy preparation for the visit to the Pacha. The British Consul had arrived, attended by a posse comitatus of interpreters and kawasses; the latter are functionaries whose employment is peculiarly eastern, and their use to clear the way before personages of distinction. The appearance of the kawass is strikingly oriental; and his dress pretty and picturesque. Armed with a long silver-headed staff somewhat similar to that of a drum-major, the kawass marches in state before his potentate, and either pompously strikes upon the ground with his staff, or else uses it to clear away opposing obstacles and dis
perse knots of persons impeding his progress. Rough saddles, rough horses, and rough roads, all conspired to make our journey to the Pacha's residence much more imposing than comfortable. Government House having been at length reached, we dismounted, and were presented in order to the viceroy by the admiral. We now seated ourselves on cushioned beucbes around the audience chamber; whilst the admiral and the Pacha occupying central positions conversed through the medium of an interpreter. The dialogue presented nothing of interest to the general company; and we were not sorry to perceive a diversion made by the entrance of servants bearing long pipes, the amber mouthpieces of which were set round with diamonds. With the pipes came coffee, coffee of the peculiar excellence to be met with only in the east. Whether it is the roasting or the subsequent boiling that makes eastern coffee so much superior to any other I cannot say; but of its superiority no one who has tasted it can doubt. The Pacha and the admiral were, I have no question satisfied with each other; and at the close of their interview we took our departure, and once more applied ourselves to sight-seeing. Time being very valuable, we resolved to ride without delay to the Tombs of the Judges. The excavation pointed out as the resting-places of the sages who judged Israel are subterranean catacombs; and differ so little from others exhibited in another place as the Tombs of the Kings that they might be pointed out to visitors either for the other. We now proceeded to Mount Scoperse; from which we enjoyed a comprehensive view of the whole surrounding country. The Tomb and Well of the Virgin, both of which are on the opposite side of Jerusalem, we duly visited on the same day. The following morn ing being wet we could not do much in the way of excursionizing; but the vendors of rosaries, crosses, pearl-shell relievos, and other souvenirs of Jerusalem made quite a harvest of sales. Besides the above-named souvenirsellers there are vendors of photographic views, stereoscopic slides, &c., all of whom seem to drive a profitable trade with visitors. Conspicuous amongst the solicitors for custom at the hotel was one portly figure, that of a Jew named Rosenthal, whose trade was the engraving and selling of bloodstones for seals or rings. A young man, the son of the Jew, who accompanied his father, was most persevering in his endeavours to get custom; and by his earnest manner and broken English caused great amusement. He so often repeated Cut your name in Hebrew for a dollar! What your name? You like to see your name in Hebrew?" that the words became familiar to us, and were often repeated long after we had left the scene of his persevering labours.
The weather cleared in the afternoon so as to allow of our visiting the Wailing-place of the Jews; to which we were conducted by the younger Rosenthal. The Wailing-place is situated outside the boundary wall of the Mosque of Omar, Here a number of poor Jews,
iahabitants of various countries, assembled regularly on every Friday in the year, to mourn over the departed glory of their race. On the occasion of our visit, there were with the men several women present. These latter, turning their faces towards the wall, uttered a low plaintive lamentation; whilst the men read, in a murmuring voice, from copies of the Hebrew Psalms. The particular locality selected as the Wailing-place of the Jews is so chosen, we were told, from the wall there being composed of stones once forming part of the Temple.
The Mosque of Omar now only remained to be seen, ere we could be satisfied that we had done all that was possible in a limited visit to Jerusalem. Many visitors have sought in vain for entrance within the sacred precincts of this mosque; and such would have been our lot, in all probability, had not the admiral obtained permission to visit its interior. To describe this wondrous building in a manner adequate to its claims were a work demanding greater powers than I possess, and a much less limited space than that at my disposal. It must suffice to say that we saw all the objects of interest in, under, and around the mosque; and amongst these, and most prominent, is the rock which is said to have followed Mahomet's ascent from the earth, until stayed in its progress by the hand of the angel Gabriel. The print of the fingers of the angel, as well as the foot of Mahomet, were duly pointed out to our incredulous eyes. On descending to the lower part of the building, our attention was directed to a stone, exhibiting, we were told, the footmark of the "Prophet Jesus," as well as portions of the foundation of the old building. Having duly investigated the subterraneous portions of the mason work, we returned with some sense of relief to the upper air, and the enjoyment of the splendid views obtainable from the boundary walls. This was the last of our Jerusalem sight-seeing; and it now only remained to set out for the Dead Sea, the Jordan, and Jericho.
The arrangements for this expedition had been already made, and the horses provided; so that we had but to bid farewell to some of our companions who could not accompany us, and then obey the cry "To horse.' The Jordan party, as we were now for distinction called, did not number more than some seven or eight officers, but to these were added a dragoman and two attendants. A party such as ours was might be deemed sufficiently numerous to travel with safety "from Jerusalem to Jericho," without falling" among thieves ;" but such was not the opinion of the authorities, and we were in consequence furnished with a guard by order of the Pacha. Our escort consisted of an officer, of unknown rank! and six troopers with a drummer at their head. The drummer was supplied with two metal bowls covered with parchment; these hung one on either side of his saddle-bow, and were beaten from time to time with a short piece of leather strap. Noise rather than music resulted from the drummer's per