Obrázky stránek
PDF
ePub

with a Christian courtesy, perhaps in spired by the spot. At length, all had risen from their genuflexions and pros. trations, and we moved slowly forward over the rugged yet slippery path which human feet had worn in the solid rock. Countless had been the makers of that path-Jebusites, Hebrews, Chaldeans, Assyrians, Egyptians, Romans, Saracens, Crusaders, and pilgrims from every country under heaven."

To attempt to follow our author in his lengthened survey of the holy city and its environs, would drive us beyond our limits; and so much has been said of that sacred locality by others, that the omission will be the less felt. We are bound, however, to remark, that although many have been more accurate and painstaking in their research, and perhaps better furnished with the special information necessary to institute it effectually, none have possessed greater power of language to describe things actually seen, and emotions actually felt; and, let us add, none have known how to assume a more respectfully reverential tone in the presence of things sacred; and this is a circumstance which must ever fix the superiority of this author over that of Eothen, upon subjects such as these. In the deep levity of the latter-if we may use words which seem a paradox -is concealed amidst the very brightness of the wit, something that shocks and offends us. It is too indiscriminately pervading-it is a garment never put off, even where reverence requires it a plumed headgear, undoffed in the most august presence. How different from Warburton's natural and honest pleasantry! which relieves the seriousness of travel, just where the mind and spirits need relaxation most, and may most becomingly and harmlessly indulge in it; and is ever ready to give way to the gush of genuine emotion, or the burst of unfeigned piety, if it be but called forth by the slightest sight, sound, or thought that breathes with solemn import. Indeed, the severest animadversion on the "Eōthen" style is contained in the following few words, which escape our author on the occasion of the absurd relics shown, and the legends told him by the monks of Jerusalem :

"It is difficult to speak of such things

[blocks in formation]

"The altar blazed with gold, and the light of the consecrated lamps showed richly on its embroidered velvet drapery, The Superior of the convent, with a reverend grey beard falling over his dark purple robes, had his right hand raised in the attitude of declamation, while the bishop, in his black dress, would have been scarcely visible in the gloom, but for the white drapery of the lady his daughter, who leant upon his arm, and followed with her eyes the arguments of each speaker. The sudden change, from excitement, and hard riding, and crowded streets, and eager voices, to that calm, solemn chapel scene, was so imposing, that I almost forgot my haste in its contemplation; but the clank of sword and spur broke dissonantly into the conversation of the churchmen. They turned to me with anxious and kind attention, and the bishop immediately placed his groom and janissary at my disposal.

"I did not wait while the servants were arming themselves and mounting; but, leaving directions for them to try the Jerusalem road, and directing some armed citizens, who pressed eagerly to be employed, to disperse themselves over the neighbouring hills, I rode away to the ill-favoured village, in the direction of which my servant had been last seen. This place bore an evil character in the country; it sold little but wine and spirits, and bought nothing, yet it was walled round as carefully as if it con

tained the most respectable and valuable community.

"Unwearied as in the morning, my gallant mare dashed away over the rocky valley, exulting in her strength and speed. She pressed against the powerful Mameluke bit, as if its curb were but a challenge, and it was only by slackening the rein that she could be induced to pause over some precipitous descent, or tangled copse; then tossing her proud head, she would burst away again like a greyhound from the leash.

"Her hoofs soon struck fire out of the flinty streets of the unpopular village; few people appeared there, and those few seemed to have just come in from the country, for every man carried a musket, and wore a knife in his sash. They answered sulkily to my inquiries, and said that no horseman had entered their village for many a day.

"I now saw that it was useless to seek further until daylight, and pushed on towards a different gate from that by which I had entered. A steep street, whose only pavement was the living rock, led down to this; as I cantered along, I could see a group of dark figures standing under the archway, and the two nearest of the party had crossed their spears to arrest my passage. I could not have stopped if I would; neither the custom of the country, nor the circumstances of the case, required much ceremony; so, shouting to them to clear the way, I gave spurs to my eager steed, and burst through them as if I was switching a rasper.' The thin spears cracked like twigs; the mob rebounded to the right and left, against the wall; and, though they were all armed, mine was the only steel that gleamed, as a fellow rushed forward to seize my bridle. The next moment my mare chested him, and sent him spinning and tangled in his long, blue gown, while we shot forth into the open moonlight, and, turning round a pile of ruins, were in a moment hidden from their view."

"I now held on my way for Bethlehem, when, at a turn of the path, I came suddenly upon an armed party. They proved to be only some Bethlehemites, however, who had come out to inform me that my servant was found. They would scarcely believe that I had been in and out of that 'den of robbers,' as they harshly called the village I had been just visiting, and, at the same time, requested a reward for their services. A few minutes afterwards I found my unfortunate dragoman at the convent, pale and trembling, and lean

ing against his foaming horse, while a crowd of men, women, and children, were listening, with open mouths and eyes, to his adventures.'

Other adventures of a less exciting, though equally romantic cast, enlivened the monotony of existence in Palestine. The Jews of Jerusalem, it appears, are very partial to foreigners, particularly to the English :

"I introduced myself to a venerable and noble-looking Hebrew in the street one day, by asking my way to the Pool of Hezekiah, whither he courteously accompanied me, and afterwards invited me to his house. We entered by a very humble doorway from the silent street, and, passing through a dark gallery of some length, entered a large apartment, which equalled in oriental luxury any that I had yet seen. The ceiling was slightly arched, and crusted with stalactites of purple and gold, that appeared to have oozed out from some rich treasury above. The walls were of panelled cedar, or some such dark and fragrant wood, exquisitely carved; and curtains of Damascus silk were gathered into thick folds between pilasters of cedar, polished, yet rugged with rich carving. The windows were without glass, but the foliage of some orange trees softened the sunshine into a delicious gloom, lending all the effect of painted glass, with the addition of a quiver, which added coolness to its shade. The furniture was simple, as is customary in the East, and consisted only of divans, or wide silken cushions, ranged round the walls, but little elevated above the floor. This was of marble mosaic, wrought into floral emblems, such as bells, pomegranates, &c. with a white marble basin of clear water in the midst. A rich, tufted carpet, in which the foot sank as in a meadow, was spread in each corner of the upper end; and leaving our slippers on the marble floor, we took our seat on the divan. When seated, my host laid his hand upon his breast, and repeated his welcomes. He then clapped his hands; and pipes-an unusual luxury among the Jews-were brought by two little black slaves, with white tunics and

scarlet caps. They retired, and we smoked the pipe of repose in such luxury and calm, as my troubled pilgrimage had seldom known till then. I should have supposed myself in some Pasha's seraglio, but for the gabardine and dark turban of my host, and that firm look of lofty determination that is to be seen on every Hebrew brow, undimmed by the disasters and degradations of two thousand years.

"My entertainer spoke with respect of Bishop Alexander, and of the other missionaries: he said he gave them credit for the best motives, but that it was all in vain to hope to proselytize his people. The Romans,' he added with enthusiasm, 'could not condemn Manlius in sight of the Capitol, and the Hill of Zion is not a likely spot for a Jew to forsake the faith of his forefathers.' The Christians do not honour Zion less,' I observed, because they also point to Calvary. They go with you hand in hand as far as regards this world's sacred history, and far beyond you then, into a heaven which you have hoped for from the days of Abraham, and which you will not receive, because different from that which you have expected.'

[ocr errors]

"The dark eyes of the Hebrew literally glowed between his grey and shaggy eyebrows, as he raised his arm in vehement gesticulation, that contrasted strangely with the repose of the rest of his draperied figure, Englishman!' he exclaimed, in a voice that seemed to gurgle from his heart, you know not what you say.' Suddenly the door opened, the tapestry that hung over it was moved aside by a beautiful rounded arm on which jewels gleamed, and there stepped forth a female form, which fascinated my attention as if it had been a vision. Imagine a Rebecca, in all the chastened pomp of dress and beauty, that Sir Walter Scott has painted with such vivid words-even such she stood before me, a glorious embodiment of all the best attributes of

her pure and noble race. Such might Eve herself have been, so might her daughters have looked when angels sought their mortal love. Miriam, Jael, Judith, and the gentle Ruth, all the beroic spirits of Judah's line, might have been represented under that form, (but not the Maid Mother.) I know not how she was dressed, I scarce know how she looked; but I have a memory before my eyes that seems still to confuse, as it dazzled then.

"I only remember a light gauzy turban, with a glittering fringe falling gracefully over the shoulder; masses of black and shining hair, that made the forehead and delicately browned cheek look as fair as a Circassian's; if a thought of luxury hovered upon the richly rosy mouth, it was awed into admiration by the large dark eyes, so fearless, yet so modest, glancing round as if they read a meaning in every thing, and every where, yet calm and selfpossessed in their consciousness of power.

[ocr errors]

She carried a little tray, on which,

I believe, were sweetmeats and sherbets, and bent gracefully forward to offer her refreshments. I started to my feet, and addressed to her some words in Italian, to which she only replied with a shake of her head, and a faint smile: she then drew back, while her sister, whom I had not noticed until now, came forward with another tray, containing I know not what. I was rather bewildered by the whole scene, and felt that I was embarrassing, by not accepting the hospitalities of my fair hostesses, while a quiet smile played over the features of my venerable host. I need not say I was very anxious to make the most of this rare opportunity of seeing the daughters of Israel in their own home; yet I confess I experienced a sensation of relief when the Jewish maidens retired, and I was left again alone with my entertainer. Controversy was now out of the question. We avoided the subject by mutual consent; and, feeling the Eastern restraint which prevented me from alluding to the subject then uppermost in my mind, I only asked whether he considered that there was a perceptible increase in the number of his people at present in Jerusalem. He replied, that the time was not yet arrived.'

But I must ask you to excuse my taking leave of you, unless you would wish to accompany me to our synagogue, whither I am now obliged to go.

"We passed out through the dark passage and the mean gate, into the dirty street, and afterwards, when I sought that house again, I could not even identify it among the squalid dwellings with which it was surrounded. Nor did I ever see my host after I parted from him at the door of the synagogue."

This chapter upon "the Jews," indeed, is one of the most interesting in the volumes, and in its strength, truth, and spirit, presents a striking contrast to that melancholy outburst of national and constitutional vanity which startled the reader of "Coningsby" in the self-vindication of Sidonia; in which the Israelite raised his snaky head for once in proud and curling defiance, and indulged his serpentine malignity in one long hiss at the whole Gentile world. Mr. Warburton concludes his notices of the nation thus :. :

[blocks in formation]
[blocks in formation]

"The Jew should be seen at Jerusalem. There, if the missionary or the political economist can make little out of him, he is at least a striking specimen of man.

"In the dark-robed form that lingers thoughtfully among the tombs in the Valley of Jehoshaphat, or bends with black turban to the ground at the 'Place of Wailing,' you seem to behold a Destiny incarnate. That fierce, dark eye, and noble brow; that medallic profile, that has been transmitted unimpaired through a thousand generations and a thousand climates; these are nature's own illustrations, and vindicate old history.

"Thou son of a perverse, but mighty generation; thou chosen, yet accursed of heaven; homeless throughout the world, yet a dweller in all its cities; treasurer of the dross, man worships, yet despised by its bigots; thou inhabitest the proudest palaces, and the most sordid huts; thou art welcomed in the cabinets of kings, and hooted in the haunts of the destitute.

[ocr errors]

Thy destiny, that has been so far fulfilled, must yet be gloriously completed. Thy wanderings over the world shall have an end, like the wandering in the desert, by which thou wert first disciplined, and made fit for freedom:

"And we shall see ye go-hear ye return
Repeopling the old solitudes.""""

We

Here our author leaves Palestinereluctantly, as we leave him. have derived much instruction as well as pleasure from his volumes. He cannot but become a most popular writer; and should he direct his talents to the Romance or Historic fiction, we dare venture to pronounce a brilliant and decided success. He has most of the sterling material required, but so lamentably wanting in many of those writers who actually do hold a certain measure of public favour at the present day-a ready flow of ideas, a smooth and finished diction,considerable powers of scene-painting and illustration, and a happy vein of humour. But he has qualities even rarer yet; a manliness of thought and

expression-a firm adherence to whatever is high-souled and honourable, without one particle of that clap-trap sentiment, so popular a cant among us. There are books which we read without bestowing even a passing thought upon their authors. We care not for the fashion of their minds, their sentiments, or their feelings, beyond the record they have submitted before us. Such is not the case with the present volumes. The narrative of personal adventure, so gracefully interwoven with the main business of the journey, suggest traits and characteristics of the writer, giving an additional interest to his story, for the sake of the teller. Yet never for a moment does the traveller usurp the attention, which should be directed to the wonderful land through which he journeys. Let his theme be a great one, and for it alone has he ears and eyes-and the higher and more poetic the subject, the more elegant and spirit-stirring are his descriptions.

But

These are not gifts to be lavished on a first work, and left in disuse ever after. Such are not the weapons to sleep in rust. It is therefore with a hearty good will, we welcome Mr. Warburton's appearance in the world of letters. If there be a fault in the general character of the work, as it affects our minds, at least, it consists, we think, in the too rapid transition from one shade of feeling and style to another from the grave to the gay— the sublime to the ridiculous. are not these all evidences of what we have asserted the overflowing abundance of mental resources, which need not husbanding. A wealth to be squandered, since it seems inexhaustible. Time, and the greater practice of the pen, may teach him to adjust his materials with nice artist-like skill; but even this success will be purchased by the cost of much of the freshness and warmth of feeling so beautifully displayed in these volumes.

We look with hope and with confidence to his re-appearance in print, and without one passing fear that his future efforts will falsify our prediction concerning him. He has every element of success, and whatever be the faults and follies of our day, there never was a period when a more hearty welcome waited on him, who combines genius with goodness.

THE DUBLIN

UNIVERSITY MAGAZINE.

No. CXLVI.

FEBRUARY, 1845.

VOL. XXV.

TALES OF THE TRAINS; BEING SOME CHAPTERS OF RAILROAD ROMANCE.

BY TILBURY TRAMP, QUEEN'S MESSENGER.

NO. II. THE COUPE OF THE NORTH-MIDLAND.

THE English are a lord-loving people, there's no doubt of it, was the reflection I could not help making to myself, on hearing the commentaries pronounced by my fellow travellers in the North-Midland, on a passenger who had just taken his departure from amongst us. He was a middle-aged man, of very prepossessing appearance, with a slow, distinct, and somewhat emphatic mode of speaking. He had joined freely and affably in the conversation of the party, contributing his share in the observations made upon the several topics discussed, and always expressing himself suitably and to the purpose; and although these are gifts I am by no means ungrateful enough to hold cheaply, yet neither was I prepared to hear such an universal burst of panegyric as followed his exit.

"The most agreeable man-so affable, so unaffected."

[ocr errors]

Always listened to with such respect in the Upper House."

"Splendid place - Treddleton — eighteen hundred acres, they say, in the demesne-such a deer park too."

"And what a collection of Vandykes!"

"The Duke has a very high opinion of his "

"Income cannot be much under two hundred thousand, I should say."

Such and such like were the fragmentary comments upon one, who, divested of so many claims upon the respect and gratitude of his country, had merely been pronounced a very well VOL. XXV.-No. 146.

bred and somewhat agreeable gentleman. To have refused sympathy with a feeling so general would have been to argue myself a member of the anticorn law league, the repeal association, or some similarly minded institution, so that I joined in the grand chorus around, and manifested the happiness I experienced in common with the rest, that a lord had travelled in our company, and neither asked us to sit on the boiler, nor on the top of the luggage, but actually spoke to us and interchanged sentiments, as though we were even intended by Providence for such communion. One little round-faced man, with a smooth cheek devoid of beard, a pair of twinkling grey eyes, and a light brown wig, did not, however, contribute his suffrage to the measure thus triumphantly carried, but sat with a very peculiar kind of simper on his mouth, and with his head turned towards the window as though to avoid observation. He, I say, said nothing, but there was that in the expression of his features that said-" I differ from you," as palpably, as though he had spoken it out in words.

The theme once started was not soon dismissed; each seemed to vie with his neighbour in his knowledge of the habits and opinions of the titled orders, and a number of pleasant little pointless stories were told of the nobility, which, if I could only remember and retail here, would show the amiable feeling they entertain for the happiness of all the world, and how glad they are when

K

« PředchozíPokračovat »