Obrázky stránek
PDF
ePub

-is a striking object; but the buildings it contains greatly contribute to its beauty. In its centre, on a raised area of white marble, stands one of the most splendid mosques in the world, octagonal in form, encrusted with encaustic tiles of gorgeous colours, and surmounted by a graceful dome. From its area the ground slopes away to the encircling ramparts in gentle undulations of green turf, diversified with marble arcades, gilded cupolas, fountains, and prayer-niches ;--all interspersed with venerable cypresses, olives, and palms. At the southern end is a large group of stately buildings, including the Mosque el-Aksa, once the Church of the Virgin ; and round the sides of the platform are cloisters, here and there covered with domes, and surmounted by tall minarets. The quiet seclusion of this sanctuary, the rich green of its grass and foliage, the dazzling whiteness of its pavements and fountains, the brilliant tints of the central mosque, and, above all, its sacred associations, make it one of the most charming and interesting spots on earth.

Just behind Moriah the Tyropean Valley was distinctly marked by a deeply-shaded belt, running from north to south through the city. Beyond it rose Zion, higher and longer than Moriah ; in front, a confused mass of terraced roofs, tier above tier ; further back were seen the white buildings of the Armenian Convent, like an immense factory ; more to the right the new English church ; and in the back-ground, crowning the hill, the massive square keep of the Castle of David. The southern section of Zion is now outside the city wall ; and there a high minaret and cupola mark the Tomb of David. From it the hill sinks into the Valley of Hinnom in steep terraced slopes, covered with vineyards, olives, and corn-fields. As I looked, a moving object in one of the fields rivetted my attention. Haste, give me the glass,” I said. I turned it upon the spot. Yes, I was right; a plough and yoke of oxen were there at work. Jeremiah's prophecy was fulfilled before my eyes : “ Zion shall be ploughed like a field.

Along the further side of Zion runs the deep glen of Hinnom, which, turning eastward, sweeps round the southern end of the hill and joins the Kidron at En-Rogel. These two ravines form

[ocr errors]

the great physical boundaries and barriers of Jerusalem ; they completely cut it off from the surrounding table-land ; and they isolate the hills on which it stands, and those other hills, too, or hill-tops, which, as the Psalmist tells us, are round about Jerusalem.” These natural barriers also served to confine the city within regular and definite limits—to prevent it from sending forth straggling suburbs and offshoots, as most other cities do; hence it was said, “Jerusalem is builded as a city that is compact together."

A high battlemented wall encompasses the modern city. It runs for half a mile along the brow of the Kidron valley, facing Olivet, then turns at right angles and zigzags across Moriah, the Tyropean, and: Zion, to the brow of Hinnom. The whole circuit is two miles and a half. The city was always fortified, and the walls and towers formed its most prominent features. Hence the language of the exulting Psalmist: “Walk about Zion, and go round about her : tell the towers thereof, mark ye well her bulwarks.” Jerusalem has no suburbs. There is no shading off of the city into the country-long streets radiating from a centre, then straggling houses, and villas, and gardens, such as we are accustomed to see in English towns.

The moment you pass the gates of Jerusalem you are in the country,—a country open, bare, without a single house, and almost desolate. Not a green spot is visible, and not a tree, save here and there a little clump of gnarled, dusky olives. Rounded hill tops, and long reaches of plain, strewn with heaps of gray limestone, extend from the walls far away to the north and south. There is no grandeur, beauty, or richness

It is bleak and featureless. Hence the sad disappointment felt by most travellers on approaching Jerusalem from the west and north. They can only see the serried line of gray Saracenic walls extending across a section of a bleak, rocky plateau. But when I stood that morning on the brow of Olivet, and looked down on the city, crowning those battlemented heights, encircled by those deep and dark ravines, I involuntarily exclaimed,

_Beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth, is Mount Zion, the city of the great King!And as I gazed, the red rays of

in the scenery.

the rising sun shed a halo round the top of the Castle of David; then they tipped with gold each tapering minaret, and gilt each dome of mosque and church ; and at length bathed in one flood of ruddy light the terraced roofs of the city, and the grass and foliage, the cupolas, pavements, and colossal walls of the Haram. —No human being could be disappointed who first saw Jerusalenı from Olivet.

J. L. PORTER.

[blocks in formation]

DAVID'S LAMENT FOR ABSALOM.

shalt come,

The pall was settled. He who slept be- How could he mark thee for the silent tomb, neath

My proud boy, Absalom ! Was straightened for the grave; and, as the folds

Cold is thy brow, my son! and I am chill, Sunk to the still proportions, they be- As to my bosom I have tried to press trayed

thee! The matchless symmetry of Absalom. How was I wont to feel my pulses thrill, His hair was yet unshorn, and silken curls Like a rich harp-string, yearning to caress Were floating round the tassels as they thee, swayed

And hear thy sweet 'my father!' from these To the admitted air, as glossy now

dumb As when, in hours of gentle dalliance,

And cold lips, Absalom ! bathing The snowy fingers of Judea's girls.

The grave hath won thee! I shall hear the His helm was at his feet: his banner, gush soiled

Of music, and the voices of the young; With trailing through Jerusalem, was laid And life will pass me in the mantling blush, Reversed, beside him: and the jewelled And the dark tresses to the soft wind hilt,

flung; Whose diamonds lit the passage of his But thou no more, with thy sweet voice,

blade, Rested, like mockery, on his covered

To meet me, Absalom! brow. The soldiers of the king trod to and fro, And oh! when I am stricken, and my heart, Clad in the garb of battle; and their Like a bruised reed, is waiting to be chief,

broken, The mighty Joab, stood beside the bier, How will its love for thee, as I depart, And gazed upon the dark pall steadfastly, Yearn for thine ear to drink its last deep As if he feared the slumberer might stir.

token! A slow step startled him. He grasped his It were so sweet, amid death's gathering blade,

gloom, As if a trumpet rang; but the bent form

To see thee, Absalom ! Of David entered, and he gave command, in a low tone, to his few followers,

And now, farewell! 'Tis hard to give thee up, And left him with his dead. The king With death so like a gentle slumber on stood still

thee ! Till the last echo died: then throwing off And thy dark sin !--oh, I could drink the The sackcloth from his brow, and laying

сир, , back

If from this woe its bitterness had won The pall from the still features of his

thee. child,

May God have called thee, like a wanderer, He bowed his head upon him, and broke

home, forth

My erring Absalom !” In the resistless eloquence of woe :

He covered up his face, and bowed himself Alas, my noble boy ! that thou shouldst A moment on his child; then, giving him die !

A look of melting tenderness, he clasped Thou, who wert made so beautifully fair! His hands convulsively, as if in prayer. That Death should settle in thy glorious And, as a strength were given him of God, eye,

He rose up calmly, and composed the pall And leave his stillness in this clustering Firmly and decently--and left him there, hair!

As if his rest had been a breathing sleep.

N. P. WILLIS.

THE SEA OF GALILEE.

UNLIKE most of the memorable scenes of Palestine, this inland sea derives its sole interest from its connection with the personal history of our blessed Lord. In the whole range of Scripture narrative there is not one recorded incident to break in upon the sacredness and singleness of this association with the earthly life of Jesus. In these unruffled waters we see, as in a glass, the undimmed and never-fading image of the Man of Sorrows. It is his form we see on the lonely shore in the mist of morning, or gliding spirit-like at midnight over the stormy waves. And when, from the vine-clad slopes of Tabor, or the Mount of Beatitudes, the traveller first sees the blue gleam of the lake, deep-set among the Galilean hills, it is this undying remembrance which makes his heart swell and tremble with hallowed emotion. .....

The lake, which is formed by a widening out of the Jordan into a great mountain chasm, is from twelve to fifteen miles in length, and six in breadth. It lies in a deep rocky basin, more than three hundred feet below the level of the Mediterranean. All travellers speak with delight of the clearness and sweetness of its waters, which glimmer with the dark polish of steel in the shadow of the mountains. These, in places, sink down sheer and abrupt to the water's edge. It still abounds with fish of an excellent quality, and “ of divers kinds,” peculiar to itself, which are taken by the Arabs with hand-nets. The plain that stretches, like a bended bow, some miles along the western shore, was famous, in old times, for its beauty and fruitfulness. This is the “land of Gennesaret,” a pleasant and sunny recess, shut in between the mountains and the sea. Josephus speaks of it in terms that remind one of Bunyan's land of Beulah. The land was rich and well watered, the air soft and genial,—the seasons sweetly tempered; so that into this delicious region were gathered the fruits of every climate under heaven. Grapes and figs might be plucked there ten months in the year; the palms were loaded with golden

« PředchozíPokračovat »