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98

GODFREY'S SWORD.

Latins, and that of itself was cause sufficient for their proscription. But what do I say? - they belonged to the Latins! No; they were the property of the catholic world; and the destroyers will transmit the shame of this violation and outrage to their latest posterity.

I knew that, at least, Godfrey's sword and his spurs had been saved, and that they were in the possession of the Fathers; I begged to be shown them. This sword, they consider, and with good reason, as a most valuable treasure. I was conducted, after divine service, to the place where it has rested for eight centuries... I looked at it for a long time with respect; I felt a desire to touch it. I hesitated ..... Did it become me to grasp the sword of him, who, kindling anew the ardour of the ancient faith, rescued from the hands of infidels the tomb of the Son of God? At last, I could not withstand the impulse to draw it from its scabbard, to examine it, and to raise it to my lips ..... Then, turning towards the Holy Sepulchre, I thrice saluted with it the sacred tomb for which it fought; and I afterwards saluted with it the spot where lie the ashes of the hero.

The iron hilt of this sword was formerly gilt; some traces of the gilding are still perceptible. The weapon is very heavy, and very long. The morocco sheath, in which it is kept, is modern; the good Fathers meant this for an honour, but, in my opinion, it is a disfigurement.

For four or five days past, Jerusalem has been in consternation. The Egyptians are coming to make themselves masters of it. This will be the nineteenth time that it has been taken ; eighteen times it has been

APPROACH OF THE EGYPTIANS.

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pillaged; what will be its fate now? The Turks of these parts, and the Arabs, are furious. Those drums, those fifes, those bayonets, now adopted by their enemies, and, in general, every approach to the European military system, are held in abhorrence by them. On the other hand, as the conqueror shows great favour to the Chris. tians, they are apprehensive lest, if they continue subject to him, they may be forced to renounce those vexations of every kind which they conceive that they have a right to exercise, and the practice which they pursue of daily extorting money from persons destitute of protection, who have no other resource against pillage and murder than the cash in their purses.

These apprehensions have become the more serious, in consequence of an order just issued by Ibrahim, enjoining the Christians to refuse immediately all kinds of tribute and exactions.

Is this conduct of Ibrahim's inspired by a laudable feeling of generosity and tolerance ? or may it not rather be an artifice to win the Christians, an artifice which may very probably cloak the intention of plundering them by and by ?.... I am afraid so, nay, I believe so. It is my opinion, too, that the convents, that of the Latins in particular, ought not all at once to give up paying the Turks what they have so long paid them; they might pay less, but at any rate it might be well to pay something : for, if Egypt is ever forced to quit Palestine, the extortions would have no bounds, and the imagination could not anticipate any thing too terrible as the certain result of a refusal.

Besides, the holy city is by no means completely re-. duced: the citadel still holds out, and will not surrender ;

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FONDNESS OF THE TURKS FOR MONEY.

the commander has declared that all his men will bury themselves under the ruins of the fortress rather than capitulate, unless the arrears of their pay, owing by the Pacha of Acre, are discharged. Then only will they open their gates and submit; but, first of all, the money down. The firing of cannon at intervals proclaims, in fact, their firm resolution to die rather than renounce what is due to them.

In all countries money has a malignant influence : among almost all the nations of the globe, money is become an idol; and, though this metal god has not the power to make men truly happy, it is to him that they every where look for happiness.

Nowhere has this baleful deity more altars than in Turkey, and in the countries subject to the Koran ; nowhere are more victims immolated to him. The Arab and the Turk sacrifice every thing to filthy lucre : with them nothing is more precious than gold, and, if they had no other means of ensuring the possession of a tolerable sum than by giving a considerable portion of their life in exchange for it, I doubt whether they would hesitate long. This remark applies to all, to the high as well as to the low, to the magistrates as well as to private individuals. A man who has just passed sentence on a robber proceeds straightway, and himself lays a convent under contribution, and he pursues this system of plunder till, summoned in his turn before the tribunal of the pacha, he finds himself stripped of his property and obliged to submit his head to the axe of the execu. tioner; and no sooner has that head rolled in the dust, no sooner is the money confiscated, than in comes a

EXECUTION BY THE BOW-STRING.

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messenger from Constantinople, bearing the fatal bowstring, and an order from the sultan to strangle the pacha : I leave you to guess why.

The orders formerly sent by the sultan were so highly respected, that he to whom the fatal cord was brought received it as coming from the Prophet himself: he saw the will of God in that of the Grand Signor, the head of his religion, and had no doubt that if he obeyed immediately, and without a murmur, he should pass forthwith into the enjoyment of everlasting felicity: he was like a lamb which suffered itself to be led to the slaughter. This sentence of death he frequently received during a banquet, an entertainment, amidst his harem, surrounded by his wives and his children. He rose, kissed the firman that decreed his death, lifted it to his head in token of obedience, stepped into the next room, performed the prescribed ablutions, said his prayers, and tendered his neck to the bow-string.

Now-a-days necessity, rather than humanity, has rendered this kind of punishment infinitely more rare, if, however, it has not caused it to be proscribed altogether. Respect for the will of the representative of the Prophet is not now carried to such a length as to ensure docility; and the envoy commissioned to carry the fatal cord, if he were to attempt to perform his errand, might deem himself fortunate if he did not pay with his own head for the hardihood of having undertaken it.

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DEPARTURE FOR BETHLEHEM.

LETTER XVIII.

DEPARTURE POR BETHLEHEM - Road - PLAIN OF RAPHAIM - GREEK

MONASTERY OF ELIJAH - Rachel's TOMB - View of BET LEHEM-
The Holy GROTTO.

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Bethlehem, January 4th, 1832. Christmas approached. The reverend Father warden of the Holy Sepulchre had already gone to Bethlehem with the greater part of the community, for the purpose of celebrating there so important a day on the very spot where the Son of God deigned to be born.

Being urged to share their happiness, I set out on the 23rd, at three in the afternoon, accompanied by a dragoman and a janissary. I rode a superb Arab mare, full of spirit; and yet I only walked her, lest, by a too rapid pace, I should lose the pleasure of observing any thing of interest which the country might present for my mind and my heart. Oh! how different were my feelings from those with which I approached Jerusalem! Then I was drawing near to a city under a curse, to a city where every thing reminds you of the excruciating torments and the ignominious death of the Saviour; and my afflicted soul beheld there nought save spots stained with the blood of the august victim, or instruments of his cruel execution - a Prætorium, a Calvary, a crown of thorns, whips, nails, a cross ! - and I fancied that I could still see and hear a ruthless populace repeatedly shouting “ Blood! blood !” and ferocious executioners bent on spilling blood .... and what blood, gracious God!!!

But Bethlehem!..... All my life, that name of itself

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