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376 MOU RNING AT TITUDES.
sepulchres, and the Bulbul's song fills up the intervals of female lamentation. In our own country a graveyard is seldom or never visited by the relatives of the deceased, who daily pass its walls unmoved ; while within it is generally the most slovenly and unsightly spot in the vicinity. The rankest nettles grow upon the graves, till the sexton asks why the tenant cumbereth the ground, and upturns the ashes of the philosopher to make room for the body of the fool ; and the green lichen soon creeps over the proud monument of the noble to tell that even his memory is forgotten. But a truce to reflection. In the burial ground to which I have referred there were hundreds of Turkish women showing, by the very position they assumed at the grave, how long ancient customs are preserved in the east. Sitting upon the ground is the posture of grief in that country. When the Israelites hung their harps by Babel's stream they sat down and wept; and this attitude of mourning is frequently alluded to in other parts of Scripture." It is that adopted by the modern Hebrews who go to mourn over the stones of Jerusalem; and so characteristic is it of sorrow, that it was made by the Romans the emblem of their captivity, when—
“Lone Judea wept beneath her palm.”
* See 1 Kings, xiii. 30; 2 Chron. xxxv.25; Jer. ix. 17–20; Amos, v. 16.
This is also the attitude in which the lower order of Irish women sing the keenan over the graves of their friends at the present day; and in Ireland we find a similarity of custom to the eastern in the hired criers at wakes and funerals. Connected with the Jews, I must now say a few words upon the different religious sects, and the English and American missionaries in Jerusalem. I was not long in the holy city until I found my way to the residence of the Rev. Mr. Nicolayson, the Jewish missionary, and was received by him and his family with the greatest kindness and affection. Their dwelling is on the side of Mount Sion, in rather an unfrequented quarter of the town, and nearly opposite David's castle. In the evenings, after the fatigues of the day, in attending processions, or exploring ancient remains, it was indeed a comfort to sit and enjoy an hour's conversation with that interesting family; to talk about the land that we had left, or consider the state and prospects of that in which we sojourned; and then to close the day with the service of our holy religion, and to hear the Scriptures read and expounded within the walls of Salem, and on the side of Sion, was indeed a privilege. In Mrs. Nicolayson I found a countrywoman, and, though I had not the pleasure of meeting her before my visit to Jerusalem, yet we were acquainted with so many mutual friends in our native land, that we very soon cast off the reserve that generally follows a first introduction; if,
378 JEWISH CONVERTS.
indeed, the Irish ever require such inducements to become intimate in foreign countries. I shall long remember with delight and gratitude the happy evenings I spent under their roof. Missionary labour must ever proceed slowly among the Jews in Jerusalem. And although I do not see that Scripture warrants the belief that the Israelites will be converted as a nation till after their restoration; yet some have come out and embraced Christianity in despite of the persecution which they knew awaited them from their brethren. For my own part, I only wonder that a Jew resident in Jerusalem ever becomes a Christian; for, perhaps, in no other place upon the globe is Christianity presented to him in a more unchristian spirit; the character and conduct of those who generally profess it is neither calculated to gain his confidence nor respect. Indeed both Jew and Mohammadan can justly point to the different religious sects, and ask is this your religion ? is this the creed you would have us to adopt? I am sure that if any of my enlightened Roman Catholic fellow-countrymen were to witness the scenes, and to know the real state of Christianity among those persons belonging to their church in Jerusalem, they would blush for their superstitious practices and be ashamed to acknowledge them as fellow worshippers. The erection of the Hebrew church, in which the service of the church of England is to be celebrated in the Hebrew tongue, will, I trust, under the
THE HEBREW CHURCH. 379
Almighty's blessing, work much good. The Jewish Society have reason to rejoice in being privileged to commence such a work; it is an undertaking worthy the high cause in which they are engaged. The Hebrew language in which the service will be read, and the Scriptures expounded, together with the simplicity of our liturgy will form a striking contrast to the mockery and impious miracle-mongering handicraft that the Jew has been heretofore told was Christianity; and will doubtless attract many of that people to attend the services of our holy religion, and lead them to believe in that Saviour whom their fathers crucified and they still reject. Considerable delay has, no doubt, taken place in its erection; but great difficulty was experienced, first in procuring the ground, and subsequently in conveying the necessary materials from Jaffa, as no timber of sufficient size for such a building grows in Judea at present. The ground which has been purchased for the purpose is just beside the missionary residence on the side of Sion; and I have marked it in the map as near the site as the want of the necessary instruments enabled me to do.” Some idea may be formed, of the prejudices * The papers of the 19th December contain the following intelligence as to this church :—“We received last night a letter from our correspondent at Constantinople, dated Nov. 20, which states that Mahomet Ali had granted a firman to the society for the conversion of the Jews, for building a Protestant church in
the city of Jerusalem, but that the Porte has not thought fit to ratify that firman.”
380 AMERICAN MISSION ARIES.
that exist among the Osmanlies as to the right of Christians of any denomination occupying any of the sacred soil in or around the holy city, and of the obstacles that lay in the way of this purchase, when I state, that the American missionaries were refused permission to enclose a small plot of ground outside the walls for a family burial place, because the shadow of the minaret of the mosque that covers the tomb of David fell upon the spot at sunset! To preach with effect, or indeed at all to gain access to the Hebrews upon religious subjects, the missionary must be not only well acquainted with their language and peculiar opinions, but also versed in their laws, traditions, Targums, and Talmuds; for the Israelites in Jerusalem are generally a learned people, and spend their time in discoursing upon these subjects. I know no man possessing the requisite qualifications for this office in a higher degree than Mr. Nicolayson, who is, indeed, eminently fitted for the holy work in which he is engaged. The labours of the American missionaries, the Rev. Messrs. Thompson and Whiting, are more among the general Christian population of the city; and not only to the high character of these gentlemen in particular, but to that of the Western missionaries generally throughout the east, I must bear most ample testimony both as to their zeal and usefulness; particularly in the establishment of