Sidor som bilder
PDF
ePub

ged, mountainous desert, no herds depasturing on the suminits, no forests clothing the acclivities, no water flowing through the vallies; but one rude scene of melancholy waste, in the midst of which the ancient glory of Judea bows her head in widowed desolation.'

[ocr errors]

The aspects which the city presents at a distance, differ much, according to the quarter whence it is first seen. There are but two directions from which European travellers have usually approached it: commonly from the northwest, after having landed at Joppa; but sometimes from the north, on the way from Samaria; and in one or two instanees, from the south. If one take the first of these routes, that from Joppa, he approaches on a southeasterly course, through the almost impassable defiles of the sterile chain that runs west of Jerusalem. At length, as he draws near, all vegetation ceases; even the very mosses disappear. The confused' amphitheatre of the mountains is tinged with a red and vivid color. In this dreary region he keeps ascending a whole hour to gain an elevated hill which he sees before him; after which, he proceeds, during an equal space, across a naked plain, strewed with loose stones. All at once, at the [southeastern] extremity of this plain, he perceives a line of Gothic walls flanked with square towers, and the tops of a few buildings peeping above them, he beholds Jerusalem, once the joy of the whole earth! Never,' adds Chateaubriand, the traveller, whose language we have quoted, were I to live a thousand years, never should I forget that desert, which yet seems to be pervaded by the greatness of Jehovah, and the terrors of death.' Dr. Richardson, another traveller on the same route, caught his first view of the city, in this direction, when about half a mile from the northwest angle of the walls. These plain embattled walls,' exclaims he, in the midst of a barren mountain tract, do they enclose the city of Jerusalem? That hill at a distance on our left, supporting a crop of barley, and crowned with a half-ruined, hoary mansion, is that the Mount of Olives? Where was the temple of Solomon, and where is Mount Zion, the glory of the whole earth? An insulated rock peaks up on our right, and a broad, flat-topped mountain, furrowed by the plough, slopes down upon our left. The city is straight before us, [to the southeast]; but the greater part of it stands in a hollow that opens to the east ; and the walls being built upon the higher ground on the north

"

and on the west, prevent the interior from being seen in this direction. We proceed down the gentle descent, covered with well-trodden grass, which neither the sun nor the passengers had yet deprived of its verdure. The ground sinks on our right, into what has been called the valley of the Son of Hinnom,* which, at the northwest corner of the wall, becomes a broad deep ravine,' running southwardly along the western wall of the city. The road likewise takes the same course, proceeding close under the ramparts, till, about half way towards the southern extremity, it enters the city through what is called the gate of Jaffa or of Bethlehem.

Such is the general prospect when seen from the northwest. If approached directly from the north, by the road from Samaria, the view which here breaks on the traveller at the distance of about three miles, is more striking. We quote the language of Dr. Clarke, an eye-witness: At length, after about two hours had been passed in this state of anxiety and suspense, ascending a hill towards the south," Hagiopolis!" ["The Holy City!"] 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.At the same time it should be confessed, that there is no other point of view

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

* 'Rather, it is a continuation of the ravine, which, on the south side of the ancient city was called the valley of the Son of Hinnom. It does not appear that this name was given to that part of it which extended along the western side, and of which our traveller here speaks. ED.

where Jerusalem is seen to so much advantage. In the celebrated prospect from the Mount of Olives, the city lies too low, is too near the eye, and has too much the character of a bird's-eye view; it has all the formality of a plan or topogra

(

phical survey. 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.' Dr. Clarke's description is indeed thought, by many, to be overcharged; but it is scarcely more highly colored than that of Mr. Jowett, who made his approach from the same quarter, and beheld the scene from the same spot: At length,' says he, while the sun was yet two hours high, my long and intensely interesting suspense was relieved. The view of the city burst upon me as in a moment; and the truly graphic language of the Psalmist was verified in a degree of which I could have formed no previous conception. Continually the expressions were bursting from my lips: "Beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth, is Mount Zion! They that trust in the Lord, shall be as Mount Zion, which cannot be removed, but abideth forever. As the mountains are round about Jerusalem, so the Lord is round about his people, from henceforth, even forever." Among the vast assemblages of domes which adorn the roofs of the convents, churches and houses, and give to this forlorn city an air even of magnificence, none seemed more splendid than that which has usurped the place of Solomon's temple. Not having my companion with me, I surveyed all in silence and rapture; and the elegant proportions, the glittering gilded crescent, and the beautiful green blue color of the mosque of Omar, were peculiarly attractive. A more soothing part of the scenery was the lovely slope of the Mount of Olives on the left. As we drew nearer and nearer to the city of the great King,' more and more manifest were the proofs of the displeasure of that great King resting upon his city. Like many other cities of the East, the distant view of Jerusalem is inexpressibly beautiful; but the distant view is all. On entering, at the Damascus gate [on the north,] meanness and filth and misery, not exceeded, if equalled, by anything which I had before seen, soon told the tale of degradation.'

6

Having surveyed the city from the northwest and from the north, we may again change our position, and look down upon

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

6

6

it, from the top of the Mount of Olives. This hill rises directly east of Jerusalem; its principal summit, which is considerably higher than the level of the town, is between one and two miles distant from the wall that fronts it, above the intervening valley of Jehoshaphat. Reposing beneath the shade of an olive-tree upon the brow of this hill,' says Mr. Buckingham, we enjoyed from hence a fine prospect of Jerusalem on the opposite one. This city occupies an irregular square, of about two miles and a half in circumference, [others say, three miles.] Its shortest apparent side is that which faces the east, and in this is the supposed gate of the ancient temple now closed up, and the small projecting stone on which Mohammed is to sit, when the world is to be assembled to judgment in the vale below. The southern side is exceedingly irregular, taking quite a zigzag direction; the southwest extreme being terminated by the mosque built over the supposed sepulchre of David, on the summit of Mount Zion. The form and exact direction of the western and southern walls, are not distinctly seen from hence; but every part of this appears to be a modern work and executed at the same time. The walls are planted, at irregular distances by square towers, and have battlements running all around on their summits, with loop-holes for arrows or musketry, close to the top. The walls appear to be about fifty feet in height, but are not surrounded by a ditch. The northern wall runs over slightly declining ground; the eastern runs straight along the brow of Mount Moriah, with the deep valley of Jehoshaphat below; the southern wall runs over the summit of the hill assumed as Mount Zion, with the vale of Hinnom at its feet; and the western wall runs along on more level ground near the summit of the high and stony mountains, over which we had first approached the town. As the city is thus seated on the brow of one large hill, divided by name into several smaller hills, and the whole of these slope gently down towards the east; this view from the Mount of Olives, a position of greater height than that on which the highest part of the city stands, commands nearly the whole of it at once.

'On the north, it is bounded by a level and apparently fertile space, now covered with olive-trees, particularly near the northeast angle. On the south, the steep side of Mount Zion, and the valley of Hinnom, both show patches of cultivation and little garden enclosures. On the west, the sterile summits

of the hills there barely lift their outlines above the dwellings. And on the east, the deep valley of Jehoshaphat, now at our feet, has some partial spots relieved by trees, though as forbidding in its general aspect as the vale of death could ever be desired to be, by those who have chosen it for the place of their interment.

Within the walls of the city, are seen crowded dwellings, remarkable in no respect, except being terraced by flat roofs, and generally built of stone. On the south are some gardens and vineyards, with the long red mosque of Al Sakhara, having two tiers of windows, a sloping roof, and a dark dome at one end; and the mosque of Zion and the sepulchre of David in the same quarter. On the west is seen the high square castle and palace of the same monarch, near the Bethlehem gate. In the centre, rise the two cupolas, of unequal form and size, the one blue and the other white, covering the church of the Holy Sepulchre. Around, in different directions, are seen the minarets of eight or ten mosques, amid an assemblage of about two thousand dwellings. And on the east, is seated the great mosque of Al Harrem, or, as called by Christians, the mosque of Solomon, from being supposed, with that of Al Sakhara near it, to occupy the site of the ancient temple of that splendid and luxurious king.'

*

Let us, at length, take our place within the city, and view its interior. From whatsoever quarter we enter, all travellers are agreed that we find the streets narrow and deserted, the houses dirty and ragged, the shops few and forsaken; and throughout the whole, there is scarcely a symptom either of commerce or of comfort. 'You lose yourself,' says the fanciful, and sometimes extravagant Chateaubriand, among narrow, unpaved streets, here going up hill, there down, from the inequality of the ground; and you walk among clouds of dust, or loose stones. Canvass, stretched from house to house, increases the gloom of this labyrinth. Bazars, roofed over, and fraught with infection, exclude the light from the desolate city. A few paltry shops expose nothing but wretchedness to view; and even these are frequently shut, from apprehension of the passage of a cadi. Not a creature is to be seen in the streets, not a creature at the gates, except now and then a peasant gliding through the gloom, concealing under his gar

* Called also the mosque of Omar. ED.

« FöregåendeFortsätt »