Page images



sionaries here, who have, much to the chagrin of their brethren of the Romish and Greek creeds, made a conditional purchase from the Turkish authorities of a small spot upon Zion, as a place of Protestant burial, near the tomb of David. If there be any one place on earth where the Chris. tian, who has any such preferences, would desire to repose until the last day, it surely must be on the heights of Zion.

But there are other tombs in this valley, belonging neither to Christian, Moslem, nor Christ-rejecting Jew. These tombs are cut from the solid rock, and are four in number. They are of two kinds. Two are cavernous excavations, one of which has a colonnade in front, similar to many I have seen in Egypt, the columns being part of the rock itself.

The other two are insulated masses of rock, detached from the steep side of the hill by excavations made around the sides and back, and are about twenty feet square. These masses of solid rock were then shaped into architectural form by the chisel, with columns, pilastres, and capitals. One is surmounted by a dome, the other by a pyr. amid, both in masonry.

The interior of each was hollowed out by the same means, the chisel alone. There has been no original entrance found to either. One of them has been broken into through its rocky side; the other is intact. It is supposed that the true entrance is by a subterranean passage not yet discovered.

Tradition pretends to ascribe these tombs to the patriarchs Jehosaphat, Absalom, Zachariah, and Jacob; on what authority I cannot learn. There appears to be some reason for the identity of that of Absalom, for, in 2 Sam. xviii., 18, it is recorded, that " Absalom in his lifetime had taken and reared for himself a pillar which is in the king's dale: for he said, I have no son to keep my name in remembrance: and he called the pillar after his own name : and it is called unto this day, Absalom's place."

About a quarter of a mile north of these tombs is the

"Garden of Gethsemane," lying close to the road which leads from St. Stephen's Gate to the top of Olivet. It is a small, irregular enclosure, five or six hundred feet in circumference, and contains eight olive-trees of immense age, and by far the largest and oldest I have ever seen. With respect to the identity of this remarkable garden, there can be but little doubt in the mind of any person who has visited the locality. The whole area of the bottom of the valley at this particular point is so small, that by a very little extension of the garden it would occupy the whole of it. I am not disposed to take for granted one in fifty of all the traditions of the monks respecting localities, unless my own judgment is forcibly appealed to by the nature of the place itself, and the strong probability of its identity from collateral testimony. The scenes enacted in and about the Garden of Gethsemane were of so important and impressive a character, that the earliest Christians could not have failed to mark its site and to consider it holy ground, transmitting from father to son the remembrance of it.

There are very few persons who pretend to doubt the identity of this spot. I procured some branches from one of the old trees, which have weathered the storms of many centuries: also a piece from the solid rock, which, with others from equally sacred and well-known spots, I intend to take with me to Rome, there to have cut into cameos, representing the several scenes appropriate to each in the life of our Saviour. Should I succeed in fulfilling this intention, these reminiscences alone would be worth a pil grimage to the Holy Land.

A little to the north of Gethsemane is an immense sepulchral chamber, cut in the solid rock below the level of the valley. The descent to it is by forty or fifty marble steps, each twenty feet wide. This large vaulted chamber has the appearance of a church, and has several altars with their ever-burning candles,


This was too good a piece of merchandise to be overlooked by the monks; and therefore, about a thousand years ago, or seven or eight centuries after the death of the mother of Christ, they suddenly discovered (perchance by some miracle) that it was her tomb; and so have ever since rep. resented it to all good Christian pilgrims, of whom each one, no doubt, left behind him some more or less valuable ex-voto.


I mentioned St. Stephen's Gate. The present is, without any kind of doubt, exactly on the site of the ancient gate, because of its being at the termination of one of the prin cipal avenues of the ancient as well as the modern city. (Cities of the old time, when destroyed and rebuilt, generally retained their ancient street lines, particularly those at first suggested by any peculiarity in the formation of the ground.) Opposite to this gate, at the foot of the hill, is an ancient bridge across the ravine. The gate derives its present name from the fact, that just without it is the place where St. Stephen was "cast out of the city" and stoned to death.

About a quarter of a mile from this gate we came to the northeast angle of the wall. Turning this, we soon came to the Damascus Gate, without meeting any one thing of consequence to make note of, except the cave of Jeremiah, mentioned to you before. We continued our ride to the northwest angle of the walls, and from thence to the Bethlehem or Jaffa Gate on the west, and returned to our tent, having made a tour of observation completely round the city. This we repeated another day.

After partaking of some refreshment we rode to the "Tombs of the Kings," as they are called by the present guardians of all the holy places in Jerusalem. They were, however, no doubt, the tombs made by Herod, according to the account of Josephus.

After having seen those of Egypt, these tombs have but

little interest for me; yet I think they have the merit of being the most curious remains of antiquity near Jerusalem.

They combine features both Egyptian and Greek. The former consisting in the subterranean manner of construction, similar to those at Thebes, while the ornament is more Greek than anything else. They are not cut in the side of a hill, but in the level plain. First, a square pit was cut into the solid rock about one hundred feet square, and perhaps twenty feet deep. The descent to the bottom is by an inclined plain. On one side of this pit is a portico, cut out of the perpendicular face of the rock. This portico has a sort of pediment or architrave, beautifully sculptured with vines, flowers, and fruits. On one side of the portico is the entrance to the subterranean chambers. The door was so much encumbered with ruins that I could not venture to descend. The gentlemen explored the whole interior by torchlight, and I learn from them that it was highly interesting. There were no remains of paintings, or of any representations of animal life in bas-relief, although there were some good specimens of sculpture like that on the exterior. There were five or six large apartments, one sev. eral steps lower than the other. Around each of these apartments were niches, or sarcophagi, cut in the rock, but now despoiled of their former tenants. To each chamber is a door of solid stone, turning on stone pivots let into a hollow at the top and bottom of the solid door-frame.

The only extraordinary feature about these chambers of the dead is their extent into the hard compact limestone, all the work of the chisel. The only interest they excited in us was their connexion with the Holy City and its venerable reminiscences. How far the tradition is to be relied on, of their being the sepulchres of the kings, it is difficult to determine, as it is very generally understood that all the kings were buried on Mount Zion; yet their royal magnificence and expensive construction would seem to indicate a more



than ordinary importance, far beyond anything of the kind now remaining of the ancient city.

We returned to our tent by the same road we had taken, having thus accomplished one of the most interesting day's adventures of my life.

Our visit to Jerusalem is now over, and we are preparing to depart in a day or two: Before we leave, however, I will give you some sketches of the interesting objects contained within these sacred walls, as well as some remarks on my visit to Bethlehem and the Pools of Solomon, the Mount of Olives and Bethany.

For the present, then, once more, adieu.


Preparations for Departure.-Fulfilment of Prophecy.-Site of the Crucifixion.-The Holy Sepulchre.-The Rock of Calvary.-The "Via Dolorosa."-Pool of Bethesda.-The Prophecy against Jerusalem.-Mosque of Omar.-Tomb of David.-The Convent of St. James.-The Latin Convent.-Wall of Solomon.-The despised Jew.


Jerusalem, TO-MORROW morning we take our departure from Jeru salem, never, perhaps, to revisit it.

We have made our last adieus to the few kind friends we have here acquired, and to whom we are so much indebted. Our baggage is again in travelling order, our refreshed and reinvigorated animals are once more brought in. Nothing now remains for us here to do but to reperuse our notes, in order to fix upon our minds an indelible recollection of the scenes and events to which they refer; then, after one more night of repose upon the holy place of Calvary, to greet the brilliant orb of day as it rises over the heights of Olivet, typ ical of that glorious luminary from whose first advent we date our present era, that "sun of righteousness" which here

« PreviousContinue »