Imágenes de página
PDF
ePub

fine prospect, in which is the lofty hill of Modin, with the ruins of the palace of the Maccabees on its summit. A small village adjoins the convent, in which are shown the remains of the house of Elizabeth, where the meeting with Mary took place. But few monks reside in the convent, which affords excellent accommodations for a traveller.

In the church, a rich altar is erected on the spot where St. John was born, with an inscription over it. The next morning we visited the wilderness : it is narrow, partially cultivated, and sprinkled with trees; the hills rise rather steep on each side; from that on the right, a small stream flows into the ravine below. The whole appearance of the place is romantic; and the prophet might have resided here, while exercising his ministry, with very little hardship. The neighbourhood still, no doubt, produces excellent honey, which is to be had throughout Palestine.

High up the rocky side of the hill on the left, amidst a profusion of trees, is the cave or grotto of St. John. A fountain gushes out close by. When we talk of wildernesses, mountains, and plains, in Palestine, it is to be understood, that they seldom answer to the size of the same objects in more extensive countries; sent but a beautiful miniature of them. It certainly deserved

as the term, given by the Psalmist, to the city, of being a compact” country.

The Baptist, in his wild garb, surrounded by an assem. blage of various characters, warning them to repentance, in this wild spot, must have presented a fine subject for the painter. In wandering over the country, we feel persuaded, that its very scenery lent wings to the poetical and figurativo discourses of its prophets and seers. Sublime and diversified, it is yet so confined and minuté as to admit the deepest seclusion in the midst of a numerous population.

The monks in the convent are of the Catholic order, and have the advantage of all their brethren in point of situation and comfort; and yet nothing will induce these Franciscans to keep their habitations clean: the Greek and Armenian monasteries are palaces compared to them. The fathers are, in general, a very ignorant race of men, chiefly from the Jowest orders of society. Their tables, except during lent, arė spread plentifully, twice a day, with several dishes of meat and wine; and so well do many of them thrive, that they would consider it banishment to be sent home to Eu rope to their friends.

From the east end of the wilderness, you enter the famous valley, of Elah, where Goli'ah was slain by the champion of Israel. It is a pretty and interesting spot; the bottom covered with olive-trees. Its present appearance answers exactly to the description given in Scripture; the two hills, on which the armies stood, entirely confining it on the right and left. The valley is not above half a mile broad. Tradition was not required to identify this spot: nature has stamped it with everlasting features of truth. The brook still flows through it in a winding course, from which David took the smooth stones; the hills are not precipitous, but slope gradually down; and the vale is varied with banks and undulations, and not a single habitation is visible in it.

LESSON XCV.

The same, concluded.

At the south-east of Zion, in the vale of Jehoshaphat they say the gardens of Solomon stood, and also on the sides of the hill adjoining that of Olivet. It was not a bad, though rather a confined, site for them. The valley here is covered with a rich verdure, divided by hedges into a number of small gardens. A mean looking village stands on the rocky side of the hill above. Not a single palm-tree is to be seen in the whole territory around, where once every eminence was covered with them.

The roads leading to the city are bad, except to the north, being the route to Damascus, but the supplies of wood and other articles for building the temple, must have come by another way than the near and direct one from Jaffa, which is impassable for burthens of a large size, from the defiles and rocks amidst which it is carried; the circuitous routes by land from Tyre or Acre were probably used. The Turk, who is chief of the guard that keeps watch at the entrance of the sacred church, waited on us two or three times; he is a very fine and dignified looking man, and ensured us entrance at all hours, which permission we avail. ed ourselves of, to pass another night amidst its hallowed scenes, with interest and pleasure but little diminished.

We chose a delightful morning for a walk to Bethany. of the grotto.

The path leads up the side of Olivet

, by the very way which our Saviour is said to have descended in his last entry into Jerusalem. At a short distance are the ruins of the village of Bethphage; and, half a mile further, is Bethany. The distance is about two miles from the

city, The village is beau. tifully situated; and the ruins of the house of Lazarus are still shown, and do credit to the good father's taste.

On the right of the road is the tomb of Lazarus, cut out of the rock. Carrying candles, we descended ten or twelve stone steps to the bottom of the cave: in the middle of the floor is the tomb, a few feet deep, and large enough to admit one body only. Several persons can stand conveniently in the cave around the tomb, so that Lazarus, when restore ed, did not, as some suppose, descend from a sepulchre cut out of the wall, but rose out of the grave, hewn in the floor

The light that enters from above does not find its way to the bottom; the fine painting in the Louvre, of this resurrection, was probably faithful in representing it by torchlight. Its identity cannot be doubted: the position of Bethany could nover have been forgotten, and this is the only sepulchre in the whole neighbourhood. It is a delightful Sunday afternoon's walk to Bethany after crossing the mounts, the patlı passes along the side of a hill, that looks down into a wild and long valley, in which are a few scattered cottages. The view, just above the village, is very magnificent, as it embraces the Dead Sea, the valley and river of the Jordan, and its confluence with the lake.

On the descent of Olivet is shown the spot where Christ wept over Jerusalem : tradition could not have selected a more suitable spot. Up this ascent David went, when he fled from Absalom, weeping. And, did a Jew wish to breathe his last where the glory of his land and fallen city should meet his departing gaze, he would desire to be laid on the summit of the Mount of Olives.

The condition of the Jews in Palestine is more insecure, and exposed to insult and exaction, than in Egypt and Syria, from the frequent lawless and oppressive conduct of the governors and chiefs. These distant pachalics* are less under the control of the Porte t; and, in Egypt, the subjects of Mahmoud enjoy a more equitable and quiet government than in any other part of the empire. There is little na.

* Pron. pă-shaw-lics.

+ The Ottoman government.

tional feeling or enthusiasm among them; though there are some exceptions, where these exist in an intense degree. In the city, they appear fearful and humbled; for the contempt in which they are held by the Turks is excessive, and they often go poorly clad to avoid exciting suspicion.

Yet it is an interesting sight, to meet with a Jew, wandering, with his staff in his hand, and a veneral)le beard sweep ing his Losom, in the rich and silent plain of Jericho, on the sides of his native mountains, or on the banks of the ancient river Kish'on, where the arm of the mighty was withered in the battle of the Lord. Did a spark of the love of his country warm his heart, his feelings must be exquisite, but his spirit is suited to his condition.

LESSON XCVI.

-that

ye, through his poverty, might be rich."

W. RUSSELL.

Low in the dim and sultry west

Is the fierce sun of Syria's sky;
The evening's grateful hour of rest,

Its hour of feast and joy, is nigh.
But he, with thirst and hunger spent,

Lone, by the wayside faintly sinks ;
A lowly hand the cup hath lent,

And from the humble well he drinks.

On the dark wave of Galilee

The gloom of twilight gathers fast,
And o'er the waters drearily

Sweeps the bleak evening blast.
The weary bird hath left the air,

And sunk into his sheltered rest;
The wandering beast hath sought his lair,

And laid him down to welcome rest.

Still, near the lake, with

tread, Lingers a form of human kind;

weary

And, from his lone, unsheltered head,

Flows the chill night-damp on the wind.

Why seeks not he a home of rest?

Why seeks not he the pillowed bed?
Beasts have their dens, the bird its nest;

He hath not where to lay his head!

Such was the lot he freely chose,

To bless, to save, the human race;
And, through his poverty, there flows

A rich, full stream of heavenly grace.

LESSON XCVII.

Elijah fed by Ravens.-GRAIIAME.

Sone was the famine throughout all the bounds Of Israel, when Elijah, by command Of God, toiled on to Cherith's failing brook. No rain-drops fall, no dew-fraught cloud, at morn, Or closing eve, creeps slowly up the vale. The withering herbage dies. Among the palms, The shrivelled leaves send to the summer gale An autumn rustle. No sweet songster's lay Is warbled from the branches. Scarce is heard The rill's faint brawl. The prophet looks around, And trusts in God, and lays his silvered head Upon the flowerless bank. Serene he sleeps, Nor wakes till dawning. Then, with hands enclasped, And heavenward face, and eye-lids closed, he prays To Him who manna on the desert showered, To Him who from the rock made fountains gush. Entranced the man of God remains; till, roused By sound of wheeling wings, with grateful heart He sees the ravens fearless by his side Alight, and leave the heaven-provided food.

« AnteriorContinuar »