« ForrigeFortsæt »
by St. Jerome. It has been a chosen place for encampment in every contest carried on in this country, from the days of Nabuchodonosor, king of the Assyrians, in the history of whose war with Arphaxed, it is mentioned as the great Plain of Esdraelon,) until the disastrous march of Napoleon Bonaparte from Egypt into Syria. Jews, Gentiles, Saracens, Christian crusaders, and anti-Christian Frenchmen, Egyptians, Persians, Druses, Turks, and Arabs, warriors out of “every nation which is under heaven,” have pitched their tents upon the plain of Esdraelon, and have beheld the various banners of their nations wet with the dews of Thabôr and of Hermon.
· Being provided with an addition to our escort of ten wellmounted and well accoutred Arabs in the service of Ljezzar, we took leave of the general at three o'clock P. M. and, having mounted our horses, continued our journey across the plain, towards Jennin.'
From thence they proceeded to the ancient Sichem, where are the sepulchres of the patriarchs, and the well of Jeseph. We left this place,' says our traveller, one hour after midnight, that we might reach Jerusalem early the same day. We were, however, much deceived concerning the distånce. Our guides represented the journey as a short excursion of five hours: it proved a most fatiguing pilgrimage of eighteen. The road was mountainous, rocky, and full of loose stones : yet the cultivation was every where marvellous; it afforded one of the most striking pictures of human industry which it is possible to behold. The limestone rocks and stony valleys of Judea were entirely covered with plantations of figs, vines, and olive-trees; not a single spot seemed to be neglected. The bills, from their bases to their upmost suumits, were entirely covered with gardens: all of these were free from weeds, and in the highest state of agricultural perfection. Even the sides of the most barren mountains had been rendered fertile, by being divided into terraces, like steps rising one above another, whereon soil had been accumulated with astonishing labour. Among the standing crops, we noticed millet, cotton, linseed, and tobacco; and occasionally small fields of barley. A sight of this territory can alone convey
any adequate idea of its surprising produce: it is truly the Eden of the East, rejoicing in the abundance of its wealth. The effect of this upon the people was strikingly pourtrayed in every countenance: instead of the depressed and gloomy looks of Djezzar pacha's desolated plains, health, hilarity, and peace, were visible in the features of the inhabitants. Under a wise and a beneficent government, the produce of the Holy Land would exceed all calculation. Its perennial barvest; the salubrity of its air; its limpid springs; its rivers, lakes, and matchless plains ; its hills and vales ;--all these added to the serenity of its climate, prove this land to be indeed “a field which the Lord hath blessed: God hath given it of the dew of heaven, and the fatness of the earth, and plenty of corn and wine.”
• The first part of our journey led through the valley lying between the two mountains Ebal and Gerizim. We passed the sepulchre of Joseph, and the well of Jacob, where the valley of Sichem opens into a fruitful plain, watered by a stream which rises near the town. This is allowed, by all writers to be the piece of land mentioned by St. John, which Jacob bought “at the hand of the children of Emmor," and where he erected his altar to “ the God of Israel." We passed, without notice, a place called Leban by Maundrell, the Lebonah of scripture: also, about six hours distance from Napolose, in a narrow valley, between two high rocky hills, the ruins of a village, and of a monastery, situated where the Bethel of Jacob is supposed to have been. The nature of the soil is an existing comment upon the record of the stony territory, where “ he took of the stones of the place, and put them for his pillows.” At two o'clock P. M. we halted for a little repose, near a well, beneath the shade of a ruined building. This place was said to be three hours distance from Jerusalem. It is perhaps the same described by Maundrell, under the name of Beer; so called, says he, from its fountain of water, and supposed to be the Michmash of sacred scripture. It is described by him as distant three hours and twenty minutes from the holy city. This name of our halting-place is not found, however, in any of our journals. Here, upon some
pieces of very mouldy biscuit, a few raw onions, (the only food we could find upon the spot,) and the water of the well, we all of us fed with the best possible appetite ; and could we have procured a little salt, we should have deemed our fare delicious.
"At three P. M. we again mounted our horses, and proceeded on our route. No sensation of fatigue or heat could counterbalance the eagerness and zeal which animated all our party, in the approach to Jerusalem; every individual pressed forward, hoping first to announce the joyful intelligence of its appearance. We passed some insignificant ruins, either of ancient buildings or of modern villages: but had thev been of more importance, they would have excited little notice at the time, so earnestly bent was every mind towards the main object of interest and curiosity. At length, after about two hours had been passed in this state of anxiety and suspense, ascending a bill towards the south-"HAGIOPOLIS !" exclaimed a Greek in the van of our cavalcade; and instantly throwing himself from his horse, was seen bareheaded, upon his knees, facing the prospect he surveyed. Suddenly the sight burst upon us all. Who shall describe it? The effect produced was that of total silence throughout the whole company. Many of the party, by an immediate impulse, took off their hats, as if entering a church, without being sensible of so doing. The Greeks and catholics shed torrents of tears; and presently beginning to cross themselves, with unfeigned devotion, asked if they might be permitted to take off the covering from their feet, and proceed, barefooted, to the holy sepulchre. We had not been prepared for the grandeur of the spectacle which the city alone exhibited. Instead of a wretched and ruined town, by some described as the desolated remnant of Jerusalem, we beheld, as it were, a flourishing and stately metropolis, presenting a magnificent assemblage of domes, towers, palaces, churches, and monasteries; all of which, glittering in the sun's rays, shone with inconceivable splendor. As we drew nearer, our whole attention was engrossed by its noble and interesting appearance. The lofty hills whereby it is surrounded give to the city itself an appearance of elevation
inferior to that which it really possesses. About three quarters of an hour before we reached the walls, we passed a large ruin upon our right hand, close to the road. This, by the reticulated style of masonry upon its walls, as well as by the remains of its vaulted foundations of brick-work, evidently denoted a Roman building. We could not obtain any account of it; neither is it mentioned by the authors who have described the antiquities of the country.
* At this place, two Turkish officers, mounted on beautiful horses sumptuously caparisoned, came to inform us, that the governor, having intelligence of our approach, had sent them to escort us into the town. When they arrived, we were all assembled upon an eminence, admiring the splendid appearance of the city; and being impressed with other ideas than those of a vain ostentation, would gladly have declined the parade, together with the interruption caused by a public entry. This was, however, said to be unavoidable; it was described as a necessary mark of respect due to Djezzar pacha, under whose protection we travelled; as well as of consequence to our future safety. We therefore consigned ourselves to all the etiquette of our Mahometan masters of ceremony, and were marshalled accordingly. Our attendants were ordered to fall back in the rear; and it was evident, by the manner of placing us, that we were expected to form a procession to the governor's house, and to appear as dependants, swelling the train of our Moslem conductors. Our British tars, not relishing this, would now and then prance towards the post of honour, and were with difficulty restrained from taking the lead. As we approached the city, the concourse of people became very great, the walls and the road side being covered with spectators. An immense multitude, at the same time, accompanied us on foot; some of whom, welcoming the procession with compliments and caresses, eried out “Bon' Inglesi! Viva l'Ingilterra !” others, cursing and reviling, called us a set of rascally Christian dogs, and filthy infidels. We could never learn wherefore so much curiosity had been excited; unless it were, that of late, owing to the turbulent state of public affairs, the resort of strangers to Jerusalem had become more uncommon; or that they expected
another visit from sir Sidney Smith, who had marched into Jerusalem with colours flying and drums beating, at the head of a party of English sailors. He protected the Christian guardians of the holy sepulchre from the tyranny of their Turkish rulers, by hoisting the British standard upon the walls of their monastery.'
Dr. Clarke and his companions refused to believe those traditionary stories respecting the holy places, which was contradictory to the evidence of their senses; yet he remarks, there is much to be seen at Jerusalem independently of its monks and monasteries.
• We were conducted,' says our traveller, to the house of the governor, who received us in very great state ; offering his protection, and exhibiting the ordinary pomp of Turkish hospitality, in the number of slaves richly dressed, who brought fuming incense, coffee, conserved fruit, and pipes, to all the party, profusely sprinkling us as usual, with rose and orangeflowered water. Being then informed of all our projects, he ordered his interpreter to go with us to the Franciscan convent of St. Salvador, a large building like a fortress, the gates of which were thrown open to receive our whole cavalcade. Here, when we were admitted into a court, with all our horses and camels, the vast portals were again closed, and a party of the most corpulent friars we had ever seen from the warmest cloisters of Spain and of Italy waddled round us, and heartily welcomed our arrival.
• From the court of the convent we were next conducted, by a stone staircase, to the refectory, where the monks who had received us introduced us to the superior, not a whit less corpulent than any of his companions. In all the convents I had ever visited (and these are not few in number) I had never beheld such friars as the Franciscans of St. Salvador. The figures sometimes brought upon the stage, to burlesque the monasterial character, may convey some notion of their appearance.
Here the travellers were regaled with coffee, tea, and the best liqueurs. The monks complained heavily of the exactions of the Turks, and of their extreme poverty ; but Dr.